There’s surely no more definitive act of personifying the American dream than relocating to Los Angeles; once the domain of aspiring actors, for musicians also the lure of the West Coast continues to draw in both the ambitious and the naive.
The five members of Blind Melon appeared in California from literally nowhere. Bassist/songwriter Brad Smith and Rogers Stevens got off the bus that pulled in from West Point, Mississippi, singer Shannon Hoon arrived from Lafayette, Indiana whilst guitarist Chris Thorn hailed from Dover, Pennsylvania and drummer Glen Graham had previously called Columbus, Mississippi home.
Hoon in particular had a murky past, supposedly always just one step ahead of the local law; back home his sister had also been in high school with Axl Rose and his first big break was duetting with the Guns N’ Roses maverick on Don’t Cry.
The sunshine vibes continued, as Blind Melon – a derogatory term for hippie neighbours coined by Smith’s father – then won a major label deal and pocketed half a million dollars. The past though continued to inform a happier present. No Rain was written by Smith recalling a period in which he busked at Venice Beach for change, praying every day he would open the curtains and see the bad weather which would provide an excuse to stay at home instead.
A simple song with a delicacy belying the omnipresent grunge motifs of the time, on No Rain Hoon managed to sound like a Gen X Neil Young, full of whimsy and a fragile humanness. In parrallel the iconic Bee Girl video hooked MTV at virtually the peak of their powers and five young men from the sticks were catapulted into celebrity with it’s razor sharp double edge. Two years later Hoon was dead, having overdosed on cocaine whilst on tour. Most of the time for starry eyed emigrants, LA’s rainbow provides only a bitter end.