One of my favorite bands of all time is a band called Blind Melon. Blind Melon was popular in the 90’s. They were an alternative rock band with their own distinct sound. Most of you probably know them from their mega-hit, “No Rain.” You know, it’s that catchy song that has a singer with a high voice who wails the quirky lyric, “all I can say is that my life is pretty plain. I like watching the puddles gather rain. And all I can do is just pour some tea for two and speak my point of view, but it’s not sane.” I like this song so much to this day that the band actually retweeted/shared a video to their social media of my daughters and I singing it in the car last year. It was one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me, lol.
Anyways, the lead singer of the band was a guy named Shannon Hoon. And this guy was a helluva wrestler in high school, which automatically made me like him and Blind Melon even more.
Most people associate rock stars and who they were before they became one as being antisocial with no direction and nothing going for them other than music. This may be the case for some, but it wasn’t for Shannon Hoon. Hoon was a jock. He was a great athlete who excelled at the pole-vault, football and on the wrestling mat. He also became a black belt in karate at age 9. He was a tough and athletic kid. Shannon was pushed pretty hard by his parents and most notably his dad, for he was an accomplished athlete in his day. Shannon undoubtedly felt the pressure to be as good at sports as his dad and this meant winning was what was expected of him in wrestling. Wrestling was presumably a huge source of pressure for him due to the expectations his family and community had for him. The pressure accumulated in time and Hoon began rebelling when he was in his late teens and developed a lifestyle that included drugs, alcohol, fighting, mischief, you name it. This lifestyle he chose continued to become more and more risky and dangerous as time passed and it eventually led to tragedy. At age 28, he passed away from a cocaine overdose.
Shannon’s mother, Nel Hoon has suspected that the pressure put on him to win may have contributed to Shannon’s rebellious and destructive behavior which led him to his untimely death.
NEL HOON: “All he was really required to do in high school was stay on top of things in sports. When he would lose at any sport, his dad had a hard time with that, and it would end up being a family fight. He really wasn’t allowed to lose. It makes me cry when I think back about how hard it must have been on him to be pushed into those things. I honestly believe that the things he did, he did for us. That may have been the reason he just totally exploded after he got out of high school.”
I don’t think it’d be a bad idea for parents of wrestlers to read that and think hard about what she said there.
Here are a few interesting things that I’ve found:
Shannon won a trophy for being awarded outstanding wrestler of a tournament he competed in. I do not know what tournament it was.
Here are some results from the Indiana HS Wrestling Sectional and Regional tournaments that he competed in… It appears he was always in the mix!!!
He was described by his mother as being very good at it, hard-working and an extremely competitive guy who would do anything to win, even if it meant being excessively rough on the opponent he was facing. His mom discussed a match he had where he caught this guy on his back and in order to secure the pin, he put his hand on the other guy’s mouth to prevent him from being able to breathe and hopefully force him to quit…which he did. There was another story where he refused to let injury or pain derail him from competing. When he was an underclassmen, he hurt his foot in a match he won and the next match was going to be against a guy who was undefeated and older than him. His foot was apparently hurt so bad that some advised him to not wrestle the match, but he insisted on competing… and he ended up beating the guy. She described Shannon as going into what appeared to be a “trance” when he warmed up and mentally prepared for wrestling matches.
Here is an interview with Nel Hoon about Shannon’s wrestling career:
When he became a rock star, he developed a bit of a reputation as being a type that you did not want to mess with. He got into his share of fights and what-not when he would drink alcohol and the reports seem to indicate that the outcome of these fights always went in his favor. Not that I condone fighting or anything, but I’m sure Shannon’s wrestling background helped him become the tough dude he was rumored to be while fighting. Even Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses respected Shannon Hoon… and Axl has a reputation for being hot-headed himself, especially when mingling with musicians who were part of the grunge genre considering the rise of grunge kind of put an end to the Guns N’ Roses era. But he liked and respected Shannon Hoon…the lead singer of a band who is considered by many as a grunge band.
Shannon’s lifestyle eventually reached the level of straight-up dangerous/unhealthy. Dan Gable has a famous quote, “wrestling makes everything else in life easier.” This quote is true and in Shannon’s case, some of what he learned about hard work in his experience with wrestling may have contributed to his success…however, it is important to keep in mind that while wrestling does make everything else in life easier, it does not make you invincible. Just because you wrestled it does not make you more likely to survive a tumultuous lifestyle. I have seen multiple wrestlers fall victim to this mindset. I have come close to it myself.
Blind Melon was a huge success as a band. They sold a ton of records, did well on the rock charts, routinely sold out shows at large venues and were well-received by critics. If Shannon hadn’t died at a young age, there’s no telling just how much more success that band would have had. If you haven’t ever listened to Blind Melon, but would like to, especially now that you know that their frontman was a wrestler, I would recommend checking out the songs; “No Rain,” “Change,” “I Wonder,” and “Galaxie” first and if those songs don’t make you want to dive in to the rest of their collection, then I don’t know what else to tell you.
I am hell-bent set on doing a “Remember The Wrestler” article on him via interviewing his mom about his wrestling career, but have come up short in my efforts at contacting her. Hopefully I can make this work someday.
“When you feel life ain’t worth living, You’ve got to stand up and take a look around, look up way to the sky,hell yeah. And when your deepest thoughts are broken. Keep on dreamin’ boy, when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die And I don’t want to die.”
-Lyrics from Blind Melon’s song, “Change”
This live version of the song, “Change” is absolutely perfect. This song is a life-changer: