|Height:||175 cm (5' 9'')|
|Birth Day:||August 6, 1969|
|Death Date:||Oct 21, 2003 (age 34)|
|Birth Place:||Omaha, United States|
As per our current Database, Elliott Smith died on Oct 21, 2003 (age 34).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|175 cm (5' 9'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
He grew up with an abusive stepfather; the effects of this trauma bleeding over into his song lyrics.
In 1991 Smith graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts with a degree in philosophy and political science. "Went straight through in four years", he explained to Under the Radar in 2003. "I guess it proved to myself that I could do something I really didn't want to for four years. Except I did like what I was studying. At the time it seemed like, 'This is your one and only chance to go to college and you had just better do it because some day you might wish that you did.' Plus, the whole reason I applied in the first place was because of my girlfriend, and I had gotten accepted already even though we had broken up before the first day." After he graduated, he "worked in a bakery back in Portland with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and legal theory".
While at Hampshire, Smith formed the band Heatmiser with classmate Neil Gust. After Smith graduated from Hampshire, the band added drummer Tony Lash and bassist Brandt Peterson and began performing around Portland in 1992. The group released the albums Dead Air (1993) and Cop and Speeder (1994) as well as the Yellow No. 5 EP (1994) on Frontier Records. They were then signed to Virgin Records to release what became their final album, Mic City Sons (1996).
One of Smith's first solo performances was at the now-defunct Umbra Penumbra on September 17, 1994. Only three songs from Roman Candle were performed, with the majority of the ten-song set being B-sides, Heatmiser tunes and unreleased tracks.
In 1995, Smith's self-titled album was released on Kill Rock Stars; the record featured a style of recording similar to Roman Candle, but with hints of growth and experimentation. Though the majority of the album was recorded by Smith alone, friend and The Spinanes vocalist Rebecca Gates sang harmony vocals on "St. Ides Heaven", and Heatmiser guitarist Neil Gust played guitar on "Single File". Several songs made reference to drugs, but Smith explained that he used the theme of drugs as a vehicle for conveying dependence rather than the songs being about drugs specifically. Looking back, Smith felt that the album's pervasive mood gave him "a reputation for being a really dark, depressed person" and said that he later made a conscious move toward more diverse moods in his music.
In 1996, filmmaker Jem Cohen recorded Smith playing acoustic songs for the short film Lucky Three: An Elliott Smith Portrait. Two of these songs would appear on his next album, Either/Or, which was another Kill Rock Stars release. Either/Or came out in 1997 to favorable reviews. The album found Smith venturing further into full instrumentation, with several songs containing bass guitar, drums, keyboards, and electric guitars, all played by Smith. The album title was derived from the two-volume book of the same name by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, whose works generally deal with themes such as existential despair, angst, death, and God.
In 1997, Smith was selected by director and fellow Portland resident Gus Van Sant to be a part of the soundtrack to his film, Good Will Hunting. Smith recorded an orchestral version of "Between the Bars" with composer Danny Elfman for the movie. Smith also contributed a new song, "Miss Misery", and three previously released tracks ("No Name #3", from Roman Candle, and "Angeles" and "Say Yes", from Either/Or). The film was a commercial and critical success, and Smith was nominated for an Academy Award for "Miss Misery". Not eager to step into the limelight, he agreed to perform the song at the ceremony only after the producers informed him that if he was unwilling to perform, they would choose someone else to play it.
On March 5, 1998, Smith made his network television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing "Miss Misery" solo on acoustic guitar. A few days later, wearing a white suit, he played an abridged version of the song at the Oscars, accompanied by the house orchestra. James Horner and Will Jennings won the award that night for best song with "My Heart Will Go On" (sung by Celine Dion) from the film Titanic. Smith did not voice disappointment about not winning the award.
In 1998, after the success of Either/Or and "Miss Misery", Smith signed to a bigger record label, DreamWorks Records. Around the same time, Smith fell into depression, speaking openly of considering suicide, and on at least one occasion made a serious attempt at ending his own life. While in North Carolina, he became severely intoxicated and ran off a cliff. He landed on a tree, which badly impaled him but broke his fall. When questioned about his suicide attempt, he told an interviewer, "Yeah, I jumped off a cliff, but let's talk about something else."
Smith's first release for DreamWorks was later that year. Titled XO, it was conceived and developed while Smith wrote it out over the winter of 1997/1998, night after night seated at the bar in Luna Lounge. It was produced by the team of Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock. XO also contained some instrumentation from Los Angeles musicians Joey Waronker and Jon Brion. It contained a more full-sounding, baroque pop sound than any of his previous efforts, with songs featuring a horn section, Chamberlins, elaborate string arrangements, and even a drum loop on the song "Independence Day". His familiar double-tracked vocal and acoustic guitar style were still apparent while his somewhat personal lyrical style survived. The album went on to peak at number 104 on the Billboard 200 and number 123 on the UK Album Charts, while selling 400,000 copies (more than double that of each of his two Kill Rock Stars releases), becoming the best-selling release of his career. Smith's backing band during most of this period was the Portland-based group Quasi, consisting of former bandmate Sam Coomes on bass guitar and Coomes's ex-wife Janet Weiss on drums. Quasi also performed as the opening act at many shows on the tour, with Smith sometimes contributing bass guitar, guitar, or backing vocals. On October 17, 1998, Smith appeared on Saturday Night Live and performed "Waltz No. 2 (XO)". His backing band for this appearance was John Moen, Jon Brion, Rob Schnapf, and Sam Coomes.
In response to whether the change to a bigger record label would influence his creative control, Smith said, "I think despite the fact that sometimes people look at major labels as simply money-making machines, they're actually composed of individuals who are real people, and there's a part of them that needs to feel that part of their job is to put out good music." Smith also claimed in another interview that he never read his reviews for fear that they would interfere with his songwriting. It was during this period that Smith appeared on Dutch television in 1998 and provided a candid interview in which he spoke of his assessment of his music career until that point:
Smith was a dedicated fan of The Beatles (as well as their solo projects), once noting that he had been listening to them frequently since he was about "four years old" and also claimed that hearing The White Album was his original inspiration to become a musician. In 1998, Smith contributed a cover of the Beatles song "Because" to the closing credits and soundtrack of the film American Beauty. Although this was the only Beatles song that Smith ever officially released, he is known to have recorded many others, ("Revolution", "I'll Be Back" and "I'm So Tired") and played many songs by both the band and the members' solo projects at live concerts.
Smith relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1999, taking up residence at a cabin in the Silver Lake section of town, where he would regularly play intimate, acoustic shows at local venues like Silverlake Lounge. He also performed in Toronto in April that year. In the fall, his cover of the Beatles' "Because" was featured in the end credits of DreamWorks' Oscar-winning drama American Beauty, and appeared on the film's soundtrack album.
The final album Smith completed, Figure 8, was released on April 18, 2000. It featured the return of Rothrock, Schnapf, Brion, and Waronker and was partially recorded at Abbey Road Studios in England, with an obvious Beatles influence in the songwriting and production. The album garnered favorable reviews, and peaked at number 99 on the Billboard 200 and 37 on the UK Album Charts. The album received praise for its power pop style and complex arrangements, described as creating a "sweeping kaleidoscope of layered instruments and sonic textures". However, some reviewers felt that Smith's trademark dark and melancholy songwriting had lost some of its subtlety, with one reviewer likening some of the lyrics to "the self-pitying complaints of an adolescent venting in his diary".
For much of his childhood, Smith's family was a part of the Community of Christ but began attending services at a local Methodist Church. Smith felt that going to church did little for him, except make him "really scared of Hell". In 2001, he said: "I don't necessarily buy into any officially structured version of spirituality. But I have my own version of it."
When Brion sent a bill for the abandoned sessions to DreamWorks, executives Lenny Waronker and Luke Wood scheduled a meeting with Smith to determine what went wrong with the sessions. Smith complained of intrusion upon his personal life from the label, as well as poor promotion for the Figure 8 album. The talks proved fruitless, and soon after, Smith sent a message to the executives, stating that if they did not release him from his contract, he would take his own life. In May 2001, Smith set out to re-record the album, mostly on his own, but with some help from David McConnell of Goldenboy. McConnell told Spin that, during this time, Smith would smoke over $1,500 worth of heroin and crack per day, would often talk about suicide, and on numerous occasions tried to give himself an overdose. Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips and Scott McPherson of Sense Field played a few drum tracks, Sam Coomes contributed some bass guitar and backing vocals, but almost every other instrument was recorded by Smith.
In the first of only three concerts performed in 2002, Smith co-headlined Northwestern University's A&O Ball with Wilco on May 2 in Chicago. He was onstage for nearly an hour but failed to complete half of the songs. He claimed that his poor performance was due to his left hand having fallen asleep and told the audience it felt "like having stuff on your hand and you can't get it off". Smith's performance was reviewed as "undoubtedly one of the worst performances ever by a musician" and an "excruciating […] nightmare". A reporter for the online magazine Glorious Noise wrote, "It would not surprise me at all if Elliott Smith ends up dead within a year."
On November 25, 2002, Smith was involved in a brawl with the Los Angeles Police Department at a concert where The Flaming Lips and Beck were performing. Smith later said he was defending a man he thought the police were harassing. The officers allegedly beat and arrested him and girlfriend Jennifer Chiba. The two spent the night in jail. Smith's back was injured in the incident, causing him to cancel a number of shows. Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips and a friend of Smith's, stated concern over Smith's appearance and actions, saying that he "saw a guy who had lost control of himself. He was needy, he was grumpy, he was everything you wouldn't want in a person. It's not like when you think of Keith Richards being pleasantly blissed out in the corner."
Smith had attempted to go to rehab several times, but found that he was unable to relate to the popular treatments for people with substance use disorder that used a twelve-step program basis for treatment. "I couldn't do the first step […] I couldn't say what you were supposed to say and mean it." In 2002, Smith went to the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center in Beverly Hills to start a course of treatment for substance use disorder. In one of his final interviews, he spoke about the center, "What they do is an IV treatment where they put a needle in your arm, and you're on a drip bag, but the only thing that's in the drip bag is amino acids and saline solution. I was coming off of a lot of psych meds and other things. I was even on an antipsychotic, although I'm not psychotic."
After his 34th birthday on August 6, 2003, he gave up alcohol. Director Mike Mills had been working with Smith during his final years and described Smith's troubles and apparent recovery: "I gave the script to him, then he dropped off the face of the earth […] he went through his whole crazy time, but by the time I was done with the film, he was making From a Basement on the Hill and I was shocked that he was actually making music."
He was also in the process of recording songs for the Thumbsucker soundtrack, including Big Star's "Thirteen" and Cat Stevens's "Trouble". In August 2003, Suicide Squeeze Records put out a limited-edition vinyl single for "Pretty (Ugly Before)", a song that Smith had been playing since the Figure 8 tour.
Smith's final show was at Redfest at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on September 19, 2003. The final song he played live was "Long, Long, Long" by The Beatles.
In a March 2009 interview, Larry Crane said that Smith's estate was defunct and all rights previously held by Smith are now in the control of his parents. Crane went on to say that his parents own the rights to Smith's high school recordings, some of the Heatmiser material, all solo songs recorded until his 1998 record deal with DreamWorks Records, and From a Basement on the Hill. DreamWorks Records was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2003, and Interscope Records currently "owns all studio and live recording from Jan 1998 to his passing, except for the songs on From a Basement on the Hill."
Smith died on October 21, 2003 at the age of 34 from two stab wounds to the chest. At the time of the stabbing, he was at his Lemoyne Street home in Echo Park, California, where he lived with his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba. According to Chiba, the two were arguing, and she locked herself in the bathroom to take a shower. Chiba heard him scream and upon opening the door saw Smith standing with a knife in his chest. She pulled the knife out, after which he collapsed and she called 9-1-1 at 12:18 pm. Smith died in the hospital, with the time of death listed as 1:36 p.m.
A possible suicide note, written on a Post-it Note, read: "I'm so sorry—love, Elliott. God forgive me." In the coroner's report of the note the name "Elliott" is misspelled as "Elliot". While Smith's death was reported as a suicide, the official autopsy report released in December 2003 left open the question of homicide.
Smith endured a difficult childhood and a troubled relationship with his stepfather Charlie Welch. Smith stated he may have been sexually abused by Welch at a young age, an allegation which Welch has denied. He wrote about this part of his life in "Some Song". The name "Charlie" also appears in songs "Flowers for Charlie" and "No Confidence Man." In a 2004 interview, Jennifer Chiba, Smith's partner at the time of his death, said that Smith's difficult childhood was partly why he needed to sedate himself with drugs as an adult: "He was remembering traumatic things from his childhood – parts of things. It's not my place to say what."
From a Basement on the Hill, almost four years in production, was released on October 19, 2004, by ANTI- Records (a part of Epitaph Records). With Smith's family in control of his estate, they chose to bring in Rob Schnapf and Smith's ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme to sort through the recordings and mix the album. Although Smith had voiced his desire for it to be a double album or a regular album with a bonus disc, it was not clear whether it would have been possible for him to release it that way had he completed it. As completed by Schnapf and Bolme, it was released as a 15-track single album. Many songs from the sessions (later leaked onto the Internet) were not included, such as "True Love", "Everything's OK", "Stickman", and "Suicide Machine" (a reworking of the Figure 8-era unreleased instrumental "Tiny Time Machine"). There has been unconfirmed speculation that Smith's family made the decision not to include some songs on the record due to their lyrical content, although songs such as "King's Crossing" that deal with darker subjects did make the album.
On July 30, 2004, Chiba filed a lawsuit against the Smith family for 15% of his earnings (over $1 million), claiming that she and Smith lived as "husband and wife", that Smith had pledged to take care of her financially for the rest of her life, and that she worked as his manager and agent from around 2000 until his death. A state labor commissioner ruled her claim as manager to be invalid, as she had worked as an "unlicensed talent agent" under California's Talent Agencies Act. The case made it to the California appellate court in October 2007, but was defeated 2–1; Chiba could potentially appeal the case to the Supreme Court of California.
In 2005, a tribute album, A Tribute to Elliott Smith, was released. It featured various bands performing tributes to Smith.
Memorial concerts were held in several cities in the United States and the United Kingdom. A petition was soon put forth with intent to make part of the Silver Lake area a memorial park in Smith's honor. It received over 10,000 signatures, but no plans to establish the park have been announced. A memorial plaque located inside Smith's former high school, Lincoln High, was hung in July 2006. The plaque reads: "I'm never going to know you now, but I'm going to love you anyhow" referencing Smith's song "Waltz No. 2 (XO)".
On May 8, 2007, a posthumous two-disc compilation album entitled New Moon was released by Kill Rock Stars. The album contained 24 songs recorded by Smith between 1994 and 1997 during his tenure with the label, songs that were not included on albums, as well as a few early versions and previously released B-sides. In the United States, the album debuted at number 24 on the Billboard 200, selling about 24,000 copies in its first week. The record received favorable reviews and was Metacritic's 15th best-reviewed album of 2007. A portion of the proceeds from album sales were to go to Outside In, a social service agency for low-income adults and homeless youth in Portland, Oregon.
On October 25, 2007, a book titled Elliott Smith was released by Autumn de Wilde, which consists of photographs, handwritten lyrics, and "revealing talks with Smith's inner circle". De Wilde was responsible for the Figure 8 sleeve art, making a landmark and de facto Smith memorial of the Solutions Audio mural. A five-song CD featuring previously unreleased live recordings of Smith performing acoustically at Largo in Los Angeles was included in the release.
In December 2009, Kill Rock Stars announced that it had obtained the rights to re-release Roman Candle and From a Basement on the Hill, originally released by Cavity Search and ANTI-, respectively. Roman Candle would be remastered by Larry Crane. Along with the press release, Kill Rock Stars posted a previously unreleased track of Smith's, titled "Cecilia/Amanda", as a free download. Roman Candle and From a Basement on the Hill were re-released on April 6, 2010, in the US.
The song "LA" was a playable song in the 2009 video game Guitar Hero 5.
A greatest hits compilation titled An Introduction to... Elliott Smith was released in November 2010 by Domino Records (UK) and Kill Rock Stars (US).
In August 2013, there was a memorial concert in Portland, Oregon and three other cities. Attending the Portland show were several musicians Smith had performed with, friends, and an appearance by film director Gus Van Sant.
In 2014, director Paul Thomas Anderson posted a video of the pilot episode for a show called The Jon Brion Show, featuring an acoustic set by Smith including accompaniment by Brion and pianist Brad Mehldau.
On July 17, 2015, a documentary about Smith's life titled Heaven Adores You saw a limited theatrical release. The documentary enlisted a number of close friends and family members, as well as hours of audio interviews throughout Smith's short career. The film was directed by Nickolas Rossi and released through Eagle Rock Entertainment. Heaven Adores You received positive reviews from Consequence of Sound, The Guardian, and The Hollywood Reporter.
On August 6, 2019 (i.e., what would have been Smith's 50th birthday), UMe released digital deluxe editions of the two albums XO and Figure 8. The new edition of XO has nine added tracks, including Smith's Oscar-nominated Good Will Hunting song "Miss Misery." Seven tracks have been added to Figure 8. The digital deluxe edition includes "Figure 8"—Smith's cover of the "Schoolhouse Rock!" song—which was originally released only on the Japanese edition of the album. The final track on the new Figure 8 edition is Smith's cover of the Beatles’ "Because," originally featured on the 1999 American Beauty soundtrack.
Currently, Elliott Smith is 52 years, 1 months and 11 days old. Elliott Smith will celebrate 53rd birthday on a Saturday 6th of August 2022.
Find out about Elliott Smith birthday activities in timeline view here.