Elliott Smith: Age 34 | Cause Of Death: SUICIDE
(Steven Paul (Elliott) Smith. B: August 6, 1969, Omaha, Nebraska – Died: October 21, 2003)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elliott Smith, a singer-songwriter whose dark, introspective songs won him critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination, has apparently committed suicide, his publicist and coroner’s officials said Wednesday. He was 34. Smith’s body was found by his live-in girlfriend Tuesday, Los Angeles County Coroner Records Supervisor Marsha Grigsby told AP Radio. He sustained a single stab wound to the chest that appeared to be self-inflicted, she said. His New York-based publicist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also confirmed his death. Smith released five solo albums that received widespread acclaim from rock critics and garnered modest commercial success. “Miss Misery,” recorded for Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting,” was nominated for an Oscar in 1998. Smith’s songs often were compared with those of Alex Chilton, Nick Drake and the Beatles, his favorite band. Lyrically, they addressed dark subject matter such as drug and alcohol addiction, troubled relationships and loneliness — though Smith tried to distance himself from the label of confessional songwriter. “I don’t feel like my songs are particularly fragile or revealing,” he said in a 1998 interview in the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not like a diary, and they’re not intended to be any sort of superintimate confessional singer-songwriterish thing.” However, Smith had recently spoken in interviews about his struggles with alcoholism. “When I lived in New York I was really a bad alcoholic for a few years,” he told Under the Radar magazine in an interview published in June 2003. In an effort to quit drinking, Smith said he had undergone treatment which administers an intravenous solution meant to clear the bloodstream of toxins. Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Nebraska; his mother was a singer and his father was a psychiatrist. He spent most of his childhood with his mother in the suburbs of Dallas and then moved to Portland, Ore., while in high school to live with his father. He studied piano and guitar as a youth and began composing songs when he was 13. He began calling himself Elliott in middle school, he later explained to a reporter, because Steve sounded too “jockish.” A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., he later joined a Portland punk band called Heatmiser. On the side, he recorded several solo albums — “Roman Candle” (1994), “Elliott Smith” (1995) and “Either/Or” (1997), all on independent labels — that won him a devoted underground following. In 1997, he moved to New York, where Van Sant approached him with an offer to use several of his songs on the soundtrack to “Good Will Hunting.” The movie was a hit, bringing Smith’s music to a mainstream audience. Smith subsequently signed with DreamWorks Records and recorded two albums; “XO” (1998) and “Figure 8” (2000) continued his critical winning streak, and took him to the middle reaches of Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. “I don’t really have any goals as a songwriter,” he once said, “other than to show what it’s like to be a person — just like everybody else who’s ever played music does.” ~Associated Press writer Justin Glanville in New York contributed to this report.
Tests on Musician Elliott Smith’s Death Inconclusive
Tests on Musician’s Death Inconclusive ~ By Associated Press
December 30, 2003, 11:30 PM EST
LOS ANGELES — Tests to determine whether an Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter was murdered or committed suicide were inconclusive, a coroner’s spokesman said Tuesday. Elliott Smith, 34, died in a hospital on Oct. 21 after his live-in girlfriend found him in their apartment with a stab wound to the chest. Initial reports indicated the reclusive Smith had stabbed himself, said coroner’s spokesman David Campbell. But an investigation into his death and an examination of his body were unable to determine if the wound was self-inflicted or if Smith was the victim of an attack. “The coroner’s examination determined either scenario was possible,” Campbell said. The Los Angeles Police Department continues to investigate Smith’s death, said Officer Jason Lee, a police spokesman. Smith, who earned a 1998 Academy Award nomination for his song “Miss Misery” from the film “Good Will Hunting,” performed it at that year’s awards show. The song lost to “My Heart Will Go On” from the film “Titanic.” Campbell said tests showed no illegal drugs in Smith’s body at the time of his death. Friends said Smith had become reclusive in recent years, and the singer-songwriter himself said he never sought fame and had at one time struggled with alcoholism. Smith was a favorite of rock music critics who admired his often dark, seemingly confessional songs, but he enjoyed only modest commercial success.