Even to the rock world, which is accustomed to such monotonously depressing news, the untimely death of Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon, 28, from an apparent accidental drug overdose still was a blow.
''This definitely came as a complete, devastating shock,'' band manager Chris Jones says of the death of Hoon, who was found at 1:20 p.m. on Oct. 21 in the group's tour bus, hours before a show at the New Orleans club Tipitina's. (At press time, results of an autopsy were still pending.) ''He'd been battling drugs for some time I had put him into rehab twice [but] it's hard to judge how far along somebody is.'' Blind Melon's projected 18-month tour which began Sept. 19 in Asbury Park, N.J. in support of their sophomore album, Soup, has been canceled. Surviving members Roger Stevens, 25; Brad Smith, 27; Christopher Thorn, 27; and Glen Graham, 27, ''want to [stay together], but we're all going to take some time off and ask ourselves that question,'' says Jones.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1990, the band entered teen consciousness 10 months after the release of its eponymous 1992 debut, with MTV locking its ''No Rain'' video and its plump, prepubescent Bee Girl (Heather DeLoach) into round-the-clock rotation. Tagged as smiley-faced ''alternative'' despite its more obvious affinity with neo-'60s folk rock, the album eventually sold more than 2 million copies and hit No. 3 on the Billboard chart.
An appropriately nostalgic turn at Woodstock '94 kept Hoon in the spotlight. But critical and commercial reaction to Soup proved lukewarm, with Hoon's performance memorably if wickedly derided by one critic as resembling that of ''a Keebler elf.'' Still, after recently moving back to his hometown of Lafayette, Ind., with girlfriend Lisa Crouse and their 4-month-old daughter, Nico Blue, Hoon seemed to have taken the proverbial turn; one of Soup's tracks even asks, ''Will it [fatherhood]bring new life into me?''
It's a cliche, perhaps, but one whose truth Hoon seemed willing to test. ''He wasn't at wit's end,'' insists photographer and good friend Danny Clinch. ''I know this guy didn't want to die.''
-- Nisid Hajari, with reporting by Tiarra Mukherjee