Author Greg Prato has mastered the art of the oral narrative. By interviewing musicians and friends of a subject, he is able to mold together concise portraits of various musicians. He used this method for a book on guitarist Tommy Bolin (also reviewed on these pages), and here he employs it to unravel the mystery of Shannon Hoon and his doomed life.
Blind Melon, the band Shannon Hoon fronted, was
one of the more interesting bands to emerge in the '80s and '90s. They had a
rock essence and were capable of putting together unique melodies and music
sections. Hoon himself owned a voice capable of conveying sadness and joy - a real singer.
The story of the band's rise and Hoon's ultimate fall is told here in terrific detail. A passage from Blind Melon stage manager Mike Osterfeld:
"Half his body was blue, half his body was red. We put him down on the floor, started giving him C.P.R. I ws holding his head, and the last bit of breath of air came out of him - it was smelling death. We wrapped him in a blanket, put him on the front bunk, called 911. It took them forever to get there. When she showed up - the E.M.T. walked on the bus and said, 'He's dead,' and walked off. I wanted to kill her."
There is a lot of drama involved in the telling of Hoon's story, and the author manages to capture a lot of it. There are no interviews with Hoon, here and that is the biggest negative. Beyond that, it is a wrenching story of a star gone bad.
As an aside, this reviewer had a chance to interview Shannon and the band just a few months before his
death. He was in tremendous spirits and joked and laughed and seemed really confident about the future. Unfortunately, that future would only last several more weeks.