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Famous Like Me > Singer > S > Elliott Smith

Profile of Elliott Smith on Famous Like Me

Name: Elliott Smith  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 21st October 1969
Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska, Smith learned
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Promotional photo of Elliott Smith from the XO album

Elliott Smith (August 6, 1969 – October 21, 2003) was an American songwriter and musician from Portland, Oregon who rose to prominence when his song "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar in the best original song category in 1998.


Elliott Smith

Born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska, but mostly grew up in Texas. Smith learned to play both the piano and guitar as a child and wrote his first song when he was 13. At 14, Smith moved from Texas to Portland, Oregon, and graduated High School on June 3rd, 1987. He began calling himself Elliott in college, since Steve sounded too much like a jock. No one is quite sure why he chose "Elliott." Some speculate it was named after a street in Portland, some say it was the brainchild of his girlfriend at the time, and was the last name of her ex-boyfriend. Elliott is spelled with two "t"s like the last name. He was part of the band Stranger Than Fiction (w/ Garrick Duckler, Tony Lash and Jason Hornick) in the early/mid 1980s. Smith graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in philosophy and political science before joining a Portland band called Heatmiser in 1991. Heatmiser disbanded sometime around 1995 or 1996. He recorded three solo albums on independent labels (including Kill Rock Stars) and two more on DreamWorks Records.


In 2002, Smith went to the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center in Beverly Hills to start a course of treatment for his drug addiction.


Elliott Smith

Smith battled depression , alcoholism, and drug addiction for many years, which is sometimes evident in his music; however, seemingly obvious songs such as "Needle in the Hay" were frequently misinterpreted to be about his own battles, when in reality his own problems with drugs did not develop until years later. He died in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California at age 34, from multiple stab wounds to the chest. While the death was originally reported as a suicide, the official autopsy report released in late December 2003 left the question open:

While his history of depression is compatible with suicide, and the location and direction of the stab wounds are consistent with self-infliction, several aspects of the circumstances (as are known at this time) are atypical of suicide and raise the possibility of homicide. These include the absence of hesitation wounds, stabbing through clothing, and the presence of small incised wounds on the right arm and left hand (possible defensive wounds). Additionally, the girlfriend's [Jennifer Chiba's] reported removal of the knife and subsequent refusal to speak with detectives are all of concern.

According to the coroner's report, the alleged suicide note, written on a Post-it, read, "I'm so sorry-love, Elliot God forgive me." The misspelling of "Elliott" was later acknowledged as a mistake on the part of the coroner.

Multiple unreleased songs he had recently recorded were released as From a Basement on the Hill by his family following his death.

His death has not been officially declared a suicide and the investigation of his death continues.


Smith had a tattoo of Ferdinand, a bull from a children's story who was too gentle for the bullfighting ring and preferred to amble about his field smelling the flowers. He also had a small tattoo of the state of Texas.

Cultural references

  • Ben Folds wrote a song about Smith titled "Late" on his album Songs for Silverman.
  • Weezer wrote a song called "The Other Way" about wanting to console Jennifer Chiba about Smith's death on their album Make Believe.
  • Rilo Kiley wrote two songs about Elliott Smith on their album More Adventurous. "It Just Is" echoes (so to speak) the death of Smith. The lyrics read "It echoed through the park last night...", a possible reference to the Los Angeles neighborhood where Smith was found dead. "Ripchord" references the lyrics of "Waltz #2 (XO)" with "your mama's got a new man, your daddy always fails" and alludes to the controversy surrounding whether his death was a murder or suicide with "I don't know if you meant it, but you did yourself in."


Full-length albums

Image Release date Title Label
July 14, 1994 Roman Candle Cavity Search
July 21, 1995 Elliott Smith Kill Rock Stars
February 25, 1997 Either/Or Kill Rock Stars
August 25, 1998 XO DreamWorks
April 18, 2000 Figure 8 DreamWorks
October 19, 2004 From a Basement on the Hill Anti-Records (Domino Records UK Release)


  • "No Confidence Man" B-side on a split 7" with Shytown (Pete Krebs) (1994; Slo-Mo Records)
  • "Needle In The Hay" B-sides: "Alphabet Town", "Some Song" (1995; on Kill Rock Stars)
  • "Speed Trials" B-sides: "Angeles", "I Don't Think I'm Ever Gonna Figure It Out" (1996; on Kill Rock Stars)
  • "Division Day" B-side: "No Name #6" (1996; on Suicide Squeeze)
  • "Ballad Of Big Nothing" B-sides: "Angeles", "Some Song", "Division Day" (1997; on Kill Rock Stars)
  • "Waltz #2 (XO)" B-side: "Our Thing" (1998; on DreamWorks)
  • "Baby Britain" B-sides: "Waltz #1 (Demo)", "The Enemy Is You" (1999; on Polydor/Dreamworks)
  • "Happiness" B-side: "Son of Sam" acoustic (2000; on DreamWorks)
  • "Son Of Sam" B-side: "A Living Will" (2000; on DreamWorks)
  • "Pretty (Ugly Before)" B-side: "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free" (early version) (2003; on Suicide Squeeze)
  • "Pretty (Ugly Before)" B-side: "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free" (2004; on Domino Records)

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Elliott Smith