• James Hewlett

ADR Pilot Script


A while back I talked about the podcast idea I'd been kicking around for a few years, Another Dead Rockstar. I never got round to actually recording it though as it was a lot of work and doing it all myself I wasn't as motivated.

Imagine how gutted I was when I saw at the top of iTunes podcasts page recently a show that seemed almost identical to the one I pitched. I haven't listened to that, I won't, I don't need to compare what they do with what I wanted to do. I know that if I'd pulled my finger out I could have put together a really tight, well produced show. There's is backed by a publication and they're clearly getting paid for it. Mine was a passion project.

I was talking to my friend Andy about this the other night and he told me I should still do my show regardless, that my prospective was more relatable and interesting than a professionals.

I don't know about that myself, but it was nice to hear and encouraged me not to totally abandon the idea. What I might do is take a step back and retool it in some ways, make it fresh again instead of a similar show.

What I'm going to post here though was my show notes/script for what was going to be my pilot episode. It includes the musical transitions I was planning on using and the rough runtime of each section. It's unfinished; I haven't detailed out the last couple of sections but I think you'll get the idea of what I was going for.

I would love to head any feedback you may have on it. I was thinking of recording this and putting it up anyway, but I'd need to close the doors and turn the fan off to do that and it's hot as balls in here today...

Intro 1 min

“Welcome to Another Dead Rockstar, a podcast designed to honour and remember some of the greatest musicians we’ve lost over the years.”

“This week we’ll be taking a look back at the life and career of Shannon Hoon, the lead singer of Blind Melon until his death on October 21st 1995.”

No Rain 30secs (0:00-0:30)

History 10 mins

Richard Shannon Hoon was born September 26th 1967 in Lafayette, Indiana to Nel and Richard ‘Dick’ Hoon. He was Nel’s third child with two older half-siblings, Tim and Anna.

He began using his middle name to avoid confusion with his father at a young age and despite what a lot of articles wrote at the time of his death, by all accounts Shannon had happy childhood.

Shannon’s sister Anna would often refer to him as the ‘chosen one.’ The one who would get all the love and affection and be spoilt rotten, but after his death, Lisa also said that “Maybe God knew that Shannon wasn’t going to be here as long as everybody else. So maybe that’s why he was so special.”

Shannon was a very hyperactive kid, always needing to be doing something to keep himself busy. This didn’t play very well with the small-town life of Lafayette or Dayton, a few miles away where the family lived. It was a fifteen mile drive to school and the other kids in the area would be tasseling corn for fun while Shannon was running around pretending sticks were guns and climbing every tree he could.

To keep him active, his parents encouraged him to take up any and all sports he wished to pursue. Shannon was a self described jock throughout his school life and excelled in wrestling and karate while also playing football and being involved in track and field events.

While he was notably rowdy in the classroom he was a good enough student to keep his grades up so that he could continue to participate in the sports.

It was at McCutcheon High School that Shannon met Lisa Sinha and the two began to date. Shannon was always to be found in the middle of any trouble that happened in his small town, he took after his dad in that he was a fighter.

Also like his father, Shannon liked to drink pretty heavily. Especially after the family was split when Shannon was 16 and he took it pretty hard.

He had a great relationship with him mum, Nel, likely because she was so lenient with him, letting him get away with anything.

The same wasn’t the case with his had, Dick. While his father would do anything for him and loved him dearly, friends recall that nothing ever seemed to be good enough for him and he could be abusive when drunk.

Shannon grew up in a very conservative, right wing, community that he never truly fit in with. He would later regret wasting time on people and things that weren’t truly important to him.

He realised around 18 that he was living his life for his parents and not himself. Also around this time he moved on from recreationally smoking weed to dabbling in LSD and hallucinogens to help him get a fix what was really important to him.

Always fond of singing anything from rap to country, Shannon was suddenly around a group of people who appreciated and encouraged that when he started hanging out at his friend Michael Kelsey’s house after high school. This was when he was finally with friends who had similar interests as him and soon the band Styff Kytten was formed.

This was 1985 and the band was a part of the big hair, tight pants, heavy metal era.

Nel Hoon, always one to spoil her son, bought Shannon a guitar and called a friend of hers to teach him how to play. He took to it quickly, much like he had previously done with sports and began writing his first song, Change. Though this song was just for him and not a number that would fit with the hair metal sounds of Styff Kytten.

The band got pretty big in the local area, playing a lot of different bars and partying a lot. Lisa and Shannon were broken up at this time as the wild new crowd he was hanging out with hated her and actually threatened to beat her up.

Always a people person and not afraid to spark up a conversation with anyone, Shannon befriended Axl Rose when he was in town for awhile. Axl was another Lafayette native and a few years older than Shannon. He had dated Anna Hoon briefly in high school.

This was when Shannon got his heart set on moving to LA, getting signed to a major label and becoming a big rock star.

He was getting sick of the lifestyle he saw around him in Indiana. It seemed to him that all people did in the small towns was get drunk and fight. If there wasn’t anyone you could start a fight with you would end up fighting with your friends. He was moving away from that sensibility and started finding it disturbing and pathetic.

He gave a lot of opportunity to the rest of Styff Kytten to join him on his trip out west, but they didn’t seem to be as committed to the idea and so he packed up and got on a bus to Los Angeles.

When Shannon arrived in LA in 1990 he began to spend a lot of time with Axl Rose and the crew he surrounded himself with. This was during the legendary recording sessions for the Guns N’ Roses album, Use Your Illusion and Axl was more than happy to help out a friend from back home. He really did everything he could to take Shannon under his wing.

Axl also felt that his voice couldn’t hit the high notes he had envisioned for some tracks on the album, most notably the harmonies on Don’t Cry.

He didn’t hesitate to bring Shannon in to sing what ostensibly became a duet and when the time came to record the band performance portion of the music video Axl insisted on dressing similarly to Shannon and having him be as front and centre as everyone else.

Of the video shoot all Hoon had to say was “They had one hell of a catering situation at that thing.”

To a lot of people in Axl Roses circle of friends, Shannon was the little, shy, quiet kid always in the back corner of the room soaking everything up and learning. Quite the difference from the boisterous ball of energy he was back in Lafayette.

Guns n’ Roses were arguably the biggest band on the planet in 1990 and to be a budding musician around them at that time would be overwhelming for anyone.

Shannon once said of Axl Rose, “If I had to deal with half the stuff that he has to deal with, then I’d be mad! I think everyone would!

Blind Melon didn’t yet exist, but he was recording demos every now and then, playing them for friends and trying to gauge their reactions. Nothing was polished yet though, he was still very much trying to find his sound. Everyone who heard him sing agreed he had a hell of a voice but the music wasn’t there just yet.

Shannon was still very much a part of the ‘LA scene’ and after being there for a little while he got to know and became friends with everybody from Johnny Depp to Chris Farley. He even sent his mum a large picture of him meeting Donald Trump because he thought that she would be proud of him.

He liked having a lot of friends but was beginning to see the superficiality of that lifestyle; all anyone had to talk about was who they knew and what parties they had been to.

Rogers Stevens and Brad Smith, Mississippi natives who had also packed up and moved to Los Angeles, had met Christopher Thorn through mutual friends and were auditioning for a singer as none of the bands they had each been in had worked out.

When Shannon Hoon came in and sat down with his acoustic guitar and played Change they all decided instantly saying “OK, this is it, this is so right.”

The fact that he had the same sort of story as the others helped a lot, they were all small town kids who had come to LA to make it and found each other along the way. Before the success stories of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the coming years this was quite unique and they were all very proud of it and wore it on their sleeves.

For Shannon, meeting up with Rogers and Brad was really refreshing. These were guys he liked from the get-go and they all became true friends, not just band mates.

Drummer, Glen Graham, was the last piece of the puzzle and fit right in with the other guys.

With that, Blind Melon was officially formed.

Change 50secs (0:20-1:10)

Musical Influences 5 mins

While a lot of the music scene at the time was glam metal and hard rock, Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon in general, rebelled against that with what they put out into the world.

Shannon liked to sing all sorts of music, his mum recalls him singing along to Hank Williams Jr in the car and some friends first heard him singing Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi.

But given his natural singing voice artists like Neil Young and Janis Joplin would have probably helped shape the voice of this budding young vocalist.

Looking back at him now it is clear that Shannon was a man out of time. Had he been active in the late 60’s / early 70’s I believe it is undoubtable that he wouldn’t have found his way to San Fransisco and fit right in with the psychedelic crowds of that era.

As music was something he came to on his own, songwriting was something that was as important to Shannon as the singing of those songs. When the rest of Blind Melon was around him the band collaborated on songs but Shannon was always a keen lyricist.

He would more often than not write his songs with a single acoustic guitar, sometimes just using the answering machine of a phone as a demo tape.

He looked to artists such as Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead and The Beatles for inspiration with John Lennon being a particularly important influence.

You only need to look at the list of instruments he was credited as playing to get an idea of the kind of music that Shannon enjoyed most and while he may not have been the best musician in the band, he was an all rounder playing all sorts of harmonicas, kazoos, bongos and percussion instruments to help craft the sounds he was looking for. The harmonica throughout a lot of the Blind Melon discography is very reminiscent of Dylan and other folk artists of years past. And the use of conga drums, while not in vogue at all throughout the early nineties, made frequent appearances on both recorded tracks and at live shows.

The band were loose in their live performances and had a jam band vibe around them, led by Shannon. This is definitely more closely associated with bands like The Grateful Dead than other contemporaries of the time.

Shannon was also fond of moving around on stage. If you take a look back at old videos of him on stage with Guns N Roses you see a much more reserved, shy, version of Shannon. He was at the mic stand and only starts moving around when the other members of the band are engaged with him. The total opposite of Axl Rose who would often be running from side or side of the stage while belting out vocals. I think that kind of presence was another thing Hoon picked up from Rose.

While they didn’t run in the same circles, Kurt Cobain was a rising star destined for a similar fate at the same time as Shannon Hoon. If you look at the formers penchant for the dramatic and often unusual stage attire it isn’t a stretch to think that this at least partially inspired Hoon’s long white dress at Woodstock ’94 or the fake moustache and top hat he wore during his final performance in the UK. It is entirely possible the two were inspiring each other without ever being aware of it.

The lyrics of Shannon Hoon were rarely exactly obvious but always had a deeper meaning and often a darker sentiment than the upbeat nature of a lot of the tracks.

Like the music he listened to when he was figuring out just who he was, Hoon’s own music was hard to define and categorise. Some saw it as folk rock, others believed it was a more neo-psychedelic stoner music and because of the time of their success some even classified Blind Melon as a grunge band along side Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.

Walk 40secs (0:00-0:40)

Career 10 mins

Formation in ‘89

Guns n’ Roses - Lafayette, Indiana connection, Axel wanting to dress like Shannon in the Don’t Cry video

Debut album ’92 - touring it for two years

Arrest in ‘93

Woodstock ‘94

Hiatus from touring to record Soup in NO. Release in ‘95

Galaxie 30secs (0:00-0:30)

Death 10 mins

Battle with addiction

Disappointing performance in Houston

Drug binge

Found dead on the bus

Band mate recalls sleeping beneath him that night and how he was likely dead the whole time

28 years old

Soul One 1min (0:00-1:08)

Legacy 10 mins

Nico released posthumously

Nico Blue Hoon

Jena Kraus

Blind Melon reformed

Danny Clinch documentary crowdfunded

A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on The Other - Greg Prato

Memorial in Dayton, Indiana annually

Mouthful of Cavities - Jena Kraus version 2mins (fade out at 1:50)

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©2017 by James Hewlett.