Elliott Smith

From Academic Kids

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Promotional photo of Elliott Smith from the XO album

Elliott Smith (August 6, 1969October 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.



He was born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska. His father, Gary Smith, is a psychiatrist and his mother, Bunny Welch, is a singer. He grew up living with his mother in Duncanville, a suburb of Dallas, Texas before moving to live with his father in Portland during high school where he attended Lincoln High School.

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Elliott Smith

Smith learned to play both the piano and guitar as a child and wrote his first song when he was 13. He began calling himself Elliott in middle school because he thought 'Steve' made him sound like a "jock". Smith graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in philosophy before joining a Portland band called Heatmiser. He recorded three solo albums on independent labels and two more on DreamWorks Records.


Initially, Smith's music comprised primarily acoustic songs. His later records, however, notably XO and Figure 8, tended to feature more full and orchestrated songs, some drawing influence from The Beatles whom Smith admired. With his final album (From a Basement on the Hill), he was apparently trying to recapture the grittier and less-produced feel of his earlier albums.


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Elliott Smith

Smith battled depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction for many years, some of 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. 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."

At the time of his death, he was recording his sixth album, From a Basement on the Hill .


Full-Length Albums

Image Release date Title Label
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July 14 1994 Roman Candle Cavity Search
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July 21 1995 Elliott Smith Kill Rock Stars
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February 25 1997 Either/Or Kill Rock Stars
August 25 1998 XO DreamWorks
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April 18 2000 Figure 8 DreamWorks
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October 19 2004 From a Basement on the Hill Anti-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)
  • "Ballad Of Big Nothing" B-sides: "Angeles", "Some Song", "Division Day" (1997; on Kill Rock Stars)
  • "Division Day" B-side: "No Name #6" (1997; on Suicide Squeeze)
  • "Baby Britain" B-sides: "Waltz #1 (Demo)", "The Enemy Is You" (1999; on Polydor/Dreamworks)
  • "Waltz #2 (XO)" B-side: "Our Thing" (2000; on 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" (2003; on Suicide Squeeze)

See also

External links

Template:Esmithde:Elliott Smith ja:エリオット・スミス nl:Elliott Smith


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