Tuesday, September 14, 2010


  Recently, the DRB has been waxing nostalgic for the glory days of Doc Martens, carpenter pants, and  melancholy jam songs.  No true music fan can descend down this path without sooner of later, reflecting on that year's monster single 'No Rain' by California's Blind Melon.  Back in 1992, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing the bittersweet croon of Shannon Hoon or forget the indelible video featuring the exploits of the 'Bee Girl'.  To tell the complete truth,  we at the DRB still get choked up at the ending.  So, we caught up with author Greg Prato to hear more about his experience researching and documenting the life and times of this incredibly talented yet tragically short-lived group of musicians.

What about Blind Melon, drew you to this project?

I've been a massive Melon/Shannon fan since first buying their self-titled debut in late '92, and I was lucky enough to see them live 5 times from '93-'95. As a fan, it always pissed me off that many foolers consider the band nothing more than a one-hit wonder. I always thought their story was equally interesting and tragic, and longed for a book that interviewed all the people that were close to the band for the real story. After I got to know most of the surviving members after doing a feature on the band a few years ago for Classic Rock Magazine, I ran the idea by them about doing a book. They gave me the OK, put me in touch with people, and voila...'A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon.'

How does the public perception of Shannon Hoon differ from who he truly was?

Since I didn't know Shannon personally, I can't give you the definitive answer - the surviving members (Chris, Rogers, Brad, and Glen), his mother (Nel Hoon), or girlfriend (Lisa Sinha) could give you a better answer on that one. But from the research for the book and all the interviews I conducted, it seems like Shannon was always "on 10," no matter if he was on stage or off.

Which Blind Melon song is the most criminally neglected in terms of public appreciation?

For a band that only put out 2 albums during Shannon's lifetime (and 1 of outtakes after his death), it's pretty astounding how many exceptionally great songs they had. There are a few personal faves that could double as being neglected - "Galaxie," "Soup," and "Toes Across the Floor" are all great. And the song "Change" really should have been a massive hit, but due to a blah video and not releasing it as a single immediately after "No Rain," it never truly crossed over to the masses (although it was always a sing-a-long favorite at their concerts).

What did you learn, not only about the band, but about yourself in the process of putting this book together?

That it takes an awful lot of work to make a book come out good! But more importantly, you should never take life (and the simple things in life) for granted.

Where does Blind Melon rank in terms of Nineties artistic influence, next to their peers?

To my knowledge, there hasn't been a massive amount of bands that list Blind Melon as an influence - especially when compared to how many bands ripped off Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Faith No More, and Nine Inch Nails (all other groups from the era). But as far as how well Blind Melon's music holds up all these years later, just as well as those other bands, in my opinion.

What would have been the next step for the band, if Shannon Hoon had lived?

Rogers said something to the effect that on what would have been their next album, all the group's problems would have sorted themselves out, which always boggled my mind as to "what could have been," since 'Soup' is one of my favorite all-time albums. It's certainly the album I listen to the most - right up there w/ 'Superunknown,' 'Angel Dust,' 'Nevermind,' 'Ten,' etc. It's safe to say that Blind Melon w/ Shannon would have continued to put out very high quality music - they seemed to be heading in an inspired and original direction, musically. Something else that made Blind Melon and most of those other '90s bands I mentioned so great - their albums sounded like a real band playing live in the room. None of that modern day, studio perfected, Pro Tools, 'American Idol'-sounding doo-doo.

What musicians and CDs are you listening to currently?

I hate to sound like an old fart, but I can't remember the last new rock band that truly blew me away...it seems like most rock music today is lame and falls flat. I know whichever new project Mike Patton is involved in and releasing via his label, Ipecac, I will enjoy. I also really love the Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age, and I thought Death from Above 1979 was a very cool/interesting band, but they sadly went the way of the dodo far too early. I enjoy just putting my iPod on shuffle and soaking it all in - punk, new wave, metal, funk, soul, early rock n' roll, classic rock, etc.

What artists had the biggest influence on you growing up?

My all-time favorite rock band is Queen - all 4 of the gentlemen were phenomenal songwriters, could pull off any musical style splendidly, and I don't think there has ever been a better rock singer/entertainer than Freddie Mercury (and Brian May is one of my fav all-time guitarists). And I always am grateful to bands like Soundgarden, Faith No More, and Nirvana, as they rescued me from listening to solely straight-ahead metal at the time, and helped broaden my musical listening taste.

What musician or group would be your dream autobiography to write and why?

Freddie Mercury would be great, but there have been oodles of Freddie bio's done over the years. How about GG Allin? That would be an interesting read, I bet.

What's next for you?

I have 2 books that will be coming out very soon (hoping November), which I'll be putting out myself again, via Lulu.com (the same company that put out 'A Devil on One Shoulder'). I'll be making an announcement shortly about the subjects about both books, but I'll give you a hint...they're both about rock n' roll! Also, if you dig 'Devil/Angel,' I put out a book last year, 'Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music' (via ECW Press) which is sure to tickle your fancy. You can always check my website for updates as to what I'm currently up to and info on how to order my books (and read sample chapters from each) - www.myspace.com/gregpratopage. Do it!


  1. Thank god you wrote this book. I am a huge melon head. I bought this book and read it the first week it came out and it is awesome. I cant tell you how great it was that you made a blind melon book. They have to be the most under rated talented band of the 90s. They are my generations led zepplin/doors kind of band. and so god damn tragic.. thank you again Dalton Sacramento CA