Behind the History of the Strange Band Name: Blind Melon

There is a long tradition of band names that stem from or conjure up ideas of food—from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cake to Cream. But one of those food-related moniker bands that has subsisted both musically and culturally throughout the past few decades is the Los Angeles, California-born band from the ’90s, Blind Melon.

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The group, whose story cannot be told without mentioning tragedy, wrote one of the most beloved and catchiest songs of all time, “No Rain.” It’s a critical and populous favorite. Catchy and thoughtful. Poetic and pop.

But how did the band get to that place in culture and how did they land on the name Blind Melon? Let’s dive deep into that history.

Blind Melon

Formed in 1990 in L.A. by musicians from Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, at its height the group was fronted by vocalist Shannon Hoon.

While the band exists today, the group went on several hiatuses throughout its career, largely due to the passing of Hoon, who died on October 21, 1995, at just 28 years old. He died of a drug overdose, going on a bender after a bad show in Houston. When the band’s sound engineer went to wake him the next day, he was dead.

It’s hard to imagine what the band could have become had he lived. But it’s likely that, whatever it was, the music would have been beloved. The band released two albums on Capitol Records. Their self-titled album in 1992 and Soup in 1995. When Hoon died, the band was on tour in support of their second LP. Hoon, a new father at the time, even brought a drug counselor on the road. But that person was soon sent home, sadly. The group’s legend will live on thanks to its hit “No Rain” and the Bee Girl character that has transcended the popular music video.

It’s hard to understate what Hoon could have been, both as a frontman and as a pure vocalist. He was even performing background vocals on iconic Guns N’ roses albums, Use Your Illusion I and II. The band, which has earned four Grammy nominations, continues today without Hoon, employing vocalist Travis Warren. The rest of the group includes guitarists Rogers Stevens and Christopher Thorn, bassist Nathan Towne and drummer Glen Graham.

The Origin of the Name

The name of the band, which evokes somehow an image of a honeydew melon with small circular John Lennon sunglasses (you, too, right?), comes from something that founding member and former bassist Brad Smith’s father said when describing hippies. He’d call them Blind Melons.

In popular culture, there is also a character from Cheech & Chong that is named Blind Melon Chitlin’. That character is a parody of Blind Lemon Jefferson, a blues musician from the 1920s.

A psychedelic, hazy, even ’70s throwback, it makes sense the band would find joy from a moniker that evokes partial derision, partial parody, and partial essential American music history. And it worked. The group with its new name signed to Capitol in 1991 after showing off a four-song demo called The Goodfoot Workshop.

The band is still performing today, thanks to determination and love of music and the group’s history. They put out an album, For My Friends in 2008 and they could be touring and spreading the Blind Melon gospel in a town near you.

Photo by Niels van Iperen/Getty Images

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