Published In the Hamilton Spectator November 14, 1996

 

BY NICK KREWEN

 

CHRIS JONES is nonchalantly perusing a magazine in the corner of the Toronto hotel suite as ROGERS STEVENS plops himself down on the couch.

Stevens is the guitarist of BLIND MELON. Jones is the manager, and his silence serves as a crutch of emotional support, since Blind Melon as a band no longer exists.

The reason? October 18, 1995. Eight weeks into the tour behind Soup, the band's second album of studio material, singer SHANNON HOON was found by New Orleans paramedics on the band's tour bus dead of an overdose.

As for the motive concerning Stevens' visit, it's to promote the band's fourth and last album, Nico, dedicated to Hoon's young daughter. She was only 13 weeks old when her father accidentally claimed his life through a mixture of cocaine and heroin.

A collection of out-takes, demos and odds 'n ends, Stevens cites a variety of incentives for concluding Blind Melon's story with Nico.

"Obviously, we didn't get to do everything we wanted to do," says Stevens. "We decided to go back in and listen to this one and see if there was enough to make a record. We didn't know at the time it would definitely come out. But the way things went, we were really amazed that it fit together and seemed to make a good sized record.

"And we really felt, a lot of the times, a lot of crazy things Shannon did -- the crazier aspects of his personality -- sort of overshadowed the fact that he was a good songwriter, and we believe he was better than he was given credit for."

It's a sad commentary indeed that Hoon might be remembered for the infamous night in Vancouver when he urinated on the crowd, or other displays of public nakedness and intoxication, but Stevens and his other bandmates -- drummer GLEN GRAHAM, bassist BRAD SMITH, and guitarist CHRISTOPHER THORN -- refuse to cast Hoon as a victim.

"That's a pretty complex question," Stevens sighs, stretching his arms behind him as he settles back into the couch.

"Was he a victim? No more so than anyone else. Obviously, he had a difficult life, but I can't look at Shannon in that way. He doesn't bring feelings of pity from me at all because he was such an extraordinary person, and songwriter, and his music and his ability to write songs lifted him up out of that.

"So I don't think he sat around and considered himself to be a victim at all, because he was working and doing stuff. He was such a multifaceted person. There were so many different ways of looking at him, and there were a number of different personalities that emerged on any given day."

He pauses.

"It's always been really hard for me to analyze him and get him under my thumb, and think I know what he is, because always something else pops up somewhere else."

Complicating matters is the belief Stevens holds that Hoon was bent on fighting his addiction.

"Yeah, he definitely wanted to stop," Stevens says. "He didn't want to hurt the people around him. He wanted to live for his daughter and all those things. It's that devil. You can lose your balance sometimes."

As for the future, Stevens says the band has written some new material and is currently searching for a new singer.

"It's not going to continue as Blind Melon," he says. "We're going to change the name. The four of us feel like we still play good together and still write well together. We feel like there's enough reason for us to keep going, change the name and write a whole new set of songs. We're not going to try and stand on the shoes of the old band. We're going to try and stand in a new pair of shoes, and do a new thing."

As for the tendency for surviving band members to assume the mantle of anti-addiction crusaders, Rogers Stevens says he isn't about to jump on any such bandwagon.

"I'm not the type of person that's gonna stand up and point fingers at people and tell them, `This is the way you should live your life!' he declares.

"I think people can look at our situation and at what happened to Shannon, and draw their conclusions. And if you can't draw your conclusions from that, you should get your head examined, because it's right there in black and white for you to see.

"But I also think people are smart enough to figure things out for themselves. If someone has a problem, They have to want to help themselves. They want to change things before you can help them. Otherwise, you're just hitting them in the head with a blunt instrument. They're not gonna listen."

Stevens says if he had his way, his day would be spent not talking about Nico and his memories of Hoon.

"It's not the best way to spend my day, or one that makes me the happiest. But I think it's important.

"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't feel like I needed to get out and at least tell people the way that I felt about Shannon and the way that I think that Nico shouldn't be overlooked."

-30-

DISCOGRAPHY

 

1992 -- Blind Melon

1995 -- Soup

1996 -- Nico

COLLABORATIONS

 

1994 -- Various Artists, Encomnium -- A Tribute To Led Zeppelin

1994 -- Various Artists, The Cowboy Way

1994 -- Various Artists, Woodstock '94

1994 -- Various Artists, Schoolhouse Rocks

POSTSCRIPT

The surviving members of Blind Melon took out an ad for a singer and received over 2000 tapes, but a 1997 attempt at carrying on petered out. They announced they were going their separate ways.

 

Donations to the Nico Blue Hoon Educational Fund can be sent c/o Shapiro & Co., 9229 Sunset Blvd., Suite 607, Los Angeles, CA.

THANKS: Liz McEleheran, Beth Waldman, Doug Foley

©1996, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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