Article and photos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey
*Most times I redo the audio over and over to make everything match up and all pretty. This time, though, I kept my first try warts and all so every one of you could be with us as I read it to Nel for the first time and hear it just as she does <3
Legacies are made in many different ways. They take many forms. Some are evident in their making like that of the great David Bowie whose life and passing changed the course of music in front of the eyes of the world. Gifts left by some are more subtle, however, like centuries of water flowing down a mountainside, where the impact may not be seen immediately, but it is indisputable that everything in its path will be forever changed. This type of lingering legacy that mirrors the great Mother Nature is one that can be seen in the eyes and hearts of many very recently, although, the world suffered the loss decades ago. On October 21, 1995 we lost one of the greatest artists and musicians to exist on this planet, the legendary Shannon Hoon, yet even today he continues to bestow blessings on family, friends, and old and new fans alike.
Shannon’s mother, Nel Hoon, plays a pivotal role in keeping his memory alive whether it be holding vigils in his honor or just being a listening ear for a melonhead in need. The two were very close, and it is easy to see where Hoon obtained his larger than life personality and stunning good looks. More importantly, though, was the humility and empathy derived from being raised by such an extraordinary woman. It was those qualities that caused Shannon to think ahead, to plan, and to ensure that his mother was taken care of so that she could then take care of the hundreds of thousands of lost souls that she would meet along the way even after his passing.
Nel speaks of her son fondly, and is very aware of the impact he has made on the world. She reads about it in fan letters still being sent to this day, many telling tales of conquered anguish with an epic dragon slaying accompanied by a soundtrack of Blind Melon melodies. She sees the imprint in the eyes of friends and strangers alike when they speak of Shannon, and how his words have saved their souls. Most of all, though, she sees his influence in her own home still as she discovers new treasures that he created just for her every single day. Some are simple gifts like the signing of multiple magazine copies and posters. Occasionally, though, his endowments contain a bit of trickery that could definitely make one question the rules of this earthly realm.
Most people are aware, of course, of the legacy left by Shannon’s words, but even more amazing is the actual physical remnants he had the foresight to leave behind. This prophetic way in which he dealt himself included not just the filming of his rise to stardom, but also autographing multiple copies of magazines and memorabilia for his mother “just in case”. Shannon first began signing things with a signature that would be near impossible to find today that read “R Shannon Hoon”. His change in style to the now infamous version did not evolve slowly over time, however, like the degradation of most people’s signatures with age, but came from just a mere moment of some teasing by a friend. Nel recalls the tale as one that involved some ribbing from a pal about trying to copy Axl Rose who at the time signed his name “W Axl Rose”. Nel says, “… it was embarrassing… He stopped immediately… He didn’t do that because of the way Axl did it, but he changed it because of Axl!”
A quick audio of Nel discussing Shannon’s autograph with Melodie:
As for the more supernatural elements to Shannon’s legacy, well, those can be debated for infinity, but some stories are just hard for even Nel to explain away. Unusual occurrences range from simple things like the right song coming on the radio at the right moment to more blatant occurrences. Some of the more extraordinary phenomenon include things like the toilet seat being up in the bathroom when no men have been near her house and the paranormal teasing of the occasional guest. One tale she recently shared included the finding of money at a time when the need was dire.
“I had been warming up my pizza in the skillet when I got distracted for a moment and it started burning,” Nel recounted, “As I ran to save my pizza I cut my hand on something, so I had to find a band-aid. Naturally I went to look in the bathroom first because I was sure they were there, but I couldn’t find them. Something told me I should go look in my dresser in my bedroom, but I found more than a band-aid! I got into the first drawer which happens to have this VH1 thing of Shannon’s in it that’s never been opened. Well, I lifted it up to look for my band-aid, and right underneath that old thing was laying a pile of money!”
Nel says this is not the first time something like this has happened to her, and she doesn’t believe it will be the last. Some people might be a bit squeamish about such frequent paranormal intrusion, but not Nel. She finds comfort in the knowledge that her boy is still with her, and welcomes the strange and unusual phenomenon just as she welcomes all types of unusual and beautiful Hoon fans into her life.
Whether it can be proven or not that Shannon’s presence transcends the rules of this physical plane is unknown. What is known, though, is that his time on this earth was entirely too short, he lived his life to the fullest, and like a small pebble skipping on a giant ocean his presence has made ripples that are still felt to this day. One would be hard pressed to find an artist or even a human of this caliber in today’s day in age. That is why Shannon Hoon’s memory remains as great, and why his family, his friends, and his adoring fans choose to still believe in him. It is often said that what is real in our minds is real, so as long as there are people on this earth that feel Shannon is in their hearts and souls then here with us his legacy will always remain.
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Photo and video footage shot for Photographic Melodie by Melodie Yvonne Ramey. Shot with Nikon D800E
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