October 21, 2010 will mark the 15th anniversary of the passing of Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon, and his former bandmates are honoring their original singer with an upcoming documentary later this year. The still-untitled piece is being directed by Colleen Hennessy and developed through Danny Clinch’s production company, Three on the Tree. While it will feature footage from several sources, the main focus of the film is the hours of footage Hoon shot himself over the years.
“Shannon took this footage for a reason — he wanted people to see this footage,” the group’s guitarist Christopher Thorn tells Rolling Stone. “He filmed everything. Some of the most powerful footage is when Shannon sits on the corner of his bed in a hotel room, looks right into the camera, and sings the most beautiful, heart-wrenching song. Some you’ve heard before, some you’ve never heard this version before. It might be ‘Mouthful of Cavities’ or ‘St. Andrew’s Fall’ with completely different lyrics, or it could be a song we’ve never heard before. It’s the most intimate, incredible footage — as if he knew, ‘I’m not going to be around, man, so here’s my gift to you when I’m gone.’ ”
The film will include footage from Blind Melon’s tour alongside Neil Young and the Rolling Stones, Thorn giving Hoon an off-the-cuff haircut, and the recording sessions for both Hoon-era Melon albums, 1992’s Blind Melon and 1995’s Soup. But there is one haunting scene that the group is still debating including. “We literally have the beginning of the band to Shannon’s last words on the phone with Lisa [Hoon’s girlfriend],” Thorn says. “It’s so sad, because he sounded fine that morning. That was at 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning — he makes a phone call to Lisa, and they’re talking about Nico [Hoon’s then-infant daughter], and Shannon’s talking about, ‘Are you going to get something to eat?’ That’s the last we heard from him.”
The end result promises to be a doc that will double as a “video diary” of sorts, which Thorn compares to a filmed version of Kurt Cobain’s Journals. “It’s one thing to read somebody’s writing, but when somebody looks into the camera, and you see the fear, the sadness, or the happiness. I would say it’s even more intimate. How amazing would it be to have Kurt sitting on the edge of his bed in a hotel room, singing these songs to you? This is like Shannon’s journal times a thousand. People are going to be absolutely blown away.”
In addition to working on the documentary, Blind Melon are still searching for a singer to take over for Shannon’s replacement, Travis Warren, who lasted for one album, 2008’s For My Friends. “If we found somebody that made me feel like we could still honor Shannon, still honor the songs, and go out there and make people happy, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Thorn says. “But those are giant shoes to fill, and you can’t even fill them — it has to be something different. It also has to be close enough so that it doesn’t sound like a different band.” Potential singers are asked to submit an MP3 or YouTube link — singing a Blind Melon song of your choice — to firstname.lastname@example.org.