Thirty years after the sudden death of singer Shannon Hoon, the genre-blurring Blind Melon remains a beloved band around the globe. Though the quintet only released a couple of studio records with Hoon at the helm, the lasting impact of their unicorn music is monumental; far more substantial than just the massive hit single “No Rain”, which powered their self-titled debut album to triple platinum status in the U.S. With two thorough books and two deep-dive documentary films already in circulation, the riventing narrative of the band’s meteoric rise and tragic demise has already been told across a few mediums, however there always seems to be more nuggets to unearth, and revelations to unpack.

From his home studio outside Philadelphia, Blind Melon guitarist/co-founder Rogers Stevens (Towne & Stevens) recently caught up with our very own B.Getz on Episode 074 of The Upful LIFE Podcast for a colorful, humorous, illuminating, and emotional reflection on his career journey—past, present, and future.

The conversation begins with a peek inside Rogers’ home-studio process of making the debut Towne & Stevens record with latter-era Blind Melon bassist Nathan Towne, and Stevens discusses finally finding his singing voice later in life. He expounds on collaborating with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rene Lopez once again, long after their time in Extra Virgin and The Tender Trio. There’s also a bit about growing up a rocker in rural Mississippi before embarking on a storied sojourn from the Deep South to the Sunset Strip, arriving at the peak of glam-rock hair-band decadence.

Rogers pulls up in a Cadillac, sittin’ in the back, opens the passenger door, and invites listeners on a wacky, wild, and ultimately catastrophic ride through the galaxies of yesteryear in the Blind Melon wayback machine. From the band’s nascent beginnings, songwriting sessions, interpersonal relationships, influences, inspirations, Hoon’s spirit and eccentricities, recording and touring, Rogers recalls the roller-coaster ride from “No Rain” to New Orleans with much hijinks and hell-raising between.

Stream Episode 074 of ‘The Upful LIFE Podcast‘ on various DSPs here.

The Upful LIFE Podcast – Rogers Stevens

In 1990, 23-year-old singer Shannon Hoon first met guitarist Rogers Stevens in Los Angeles after taking a bus from Lafayette, IN to SoCal. A year or so earlier, Stevens and bassist Brad Smith had relocated to L.A. from West Point, MS, where they graduated high school and worked on the kill floor of a local slaughterhouse. Stevens connected with Shannon through a mutual friend in Hollywood; Hoon—hometown homies with Axl Rose and already making waves on the West Coast—swiftly reeled off a couple of tunes for Rogers. Immediately taken with Hoon’s voice and mesmerized by his presence, they decided, on the spot, to form a band together.

The original Blind Melon lineup consisted of Stevens, Hoon, Smith, drummer Glen Graham, and guitarist Christopher Thorn. A promising, multi-hued, idiosyncratic brotherhood that was sadly short-lived. Dreamy single “No Rain” blasted the band into superstardom pretty quickly, and their self-titled debut sold millions in the tailwind of the huge hit. In less than five years, the quintet released a strong pair of studio albums all while touring at a furious clip. They appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, MTV, Canada’s MuchMusic, threw down a legendary set at Woodstock ’94, headlined clubs and theaters, opened stadiums for The Rolling Stones, and supported Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, Neil Young, and numerous others.

After the monster success of their debut CD, Blind Melon set about refining/redefining their unicorn sound, as evidenced on their sensational sophomore record Soup. Critically panned and a commercial disappointment at the time, over nearly three decades Soup has proven a celebrated fan favorite. A gumbo of compositions and performances that transcend era and genre, Soup is a magnificent work of high art in the Crescent City voodoo tradition.

When Hoon died suddenly from a drug overdose, on tour in New Orleans in October 1995, the band was evolving rather organically, though still finding their stride. A posthumous collection of B-sides and outtakes, the gripping Nico (named for Shannon’s daughter Nico Blue Hoon, only a few months old when he tragically passed) was released in 1996, an emotional nod toward what could’ve—and should’ve—been.

These days, Rogers Stevens is an attorney who lives in the Philly suburbs with his family. He’s currently workshopping songs for the next Towne & Stevens record.

words: B.Getz