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Dark Days: Blind Melon & the Darkness Take a Nose-Dive

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: .

I quit. Undoubtedly those two words have lead to both shame and freedom for hundreds of millions of people around the world. A little over a week ago Justin Hawkins, lead singer for English glam revivalists The Darkness, announced that he would be leaving the band that helped him reach the highest moments of his career. It was a move towards stable and long lasting health for Hawkins, who was recently released from rehab, “It would be damaging to my recovery to stay on. I’m not blaming the band for my problem. I am an addict.” It wasn’t the decision by Hawkins that was shocking, surprisingly though, it was the decision by his now former band mates that they would go on without him that startled most.

The band’s debut release, Permission to Land, was a flop when it was first released in the UK, as it failed to find chart recognition until the re-release of its single “I Believe in Thing Called Love.” It was then that the band quickly found fame and climbed to the point at which it would eventually top out, number 2 on the UK singles chart. The album would eventually sell over a million and a half copies in the UK, nearly 700,000 copies in the US and garner The Darkness and its quirky front man worldwide attention.

But as the band’s fame progressed bassist Frankie Poulan suddenly quit, citing musical differences in the spring of 2005. Claiming that he was forced out of the band, Poulan set a dark preface to the band’s release One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back which would be released in November of the same year. It was immediately received to a gamut of mixed emotion among critics and fans alike. As sales and interest in the band continued to spiral, the album ultimately selling a lowly 90,000 copies in the US, Hawkins’ found his addiction peaking, ultimately ending with a check-in to rehab in August of 2006.

One Way Ticket… was a strong follow-up but was met with strong criticism against its initial label hype, and was forgotten about quickly as Atlantic discontinued promotion of the album and its singles (there were three, by the way). With that, one day after the departure of the band’s only real point of attraction, its label, Atlantic, dropped the band for good. To some extent The Darkness follows a number of bands who had been given the world with the release of their debut album and were subject to underwhelming support from their label when trying to make something work the second time around. As was the case with Blind Melon with its sophomore release Soup, which I personally still hold as a far more solid and relevant release the band’s self-titled debut.

On October 20th month long rumors were confirmed that one time alt. rock icons Blind Melon would reform with new singer Travis Warren. Though Blind Melon and The Darkness are about as far apart on the rock spectrum as possible, on the surface their remaining musicians seem to hold similar ulterior motives to their current musical conquests. By continuing to perform music under the cloak of a previously successful brand its members are discrediting their current art and taking away from whatever legacy their music once had.

With Shannon Hoon’s death from a cocaine overdose in 1995 and Hawkins’ deteriorating health these bands have both been affected by the darker side of fame, the accessibility to whatever it may be that one wants and the vulnerability of the human spirit. But by continuing these bands under their once famous monikers they are depressing any chance they had at reaching out to their past fan bases. A fan’s plead: for not only the sake of your future endeavors but for respect for your respective pasts, change your band’s name, learn from the past and experience the freedom that can come as a result of quitting.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]