Elliot Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised primarily in Texas, and lived much of his life in Portland, Oregon, where he first gained popularity. Smith's primary instrument was the guitar, though he also played piano, clarinet, bass guitar, drums, and harmonica. Smith had a distinctive vocal style, characterized by his "whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery", and often used multi-tracking to create vocal layers, textures, and harmonies.
After playing in the rock band Heatmiser for several years, Smith began his solo career in 1994, with releases on the independent record labels Cavity Search and Kill Rock Stars (KRS). In 1997, he signed a contract with DreamWorks Records, for which he recorded two albums. Smith rose to mainstream prominence when his song "Miss Misery"—included in the soundtrack for the film Good Will Hunting (1997)—was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category in 1998.
Smith was a heavy drinker and drug user at times throughout his life, and was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. His struggles with drugs and mental illness affected his life and work, and often appeared in his lyrics. In 2003, aged 34, he died in Los Angeles, California, from two stab wounds to the chest. The autopsy evidence was inconclusive as to whether the wounds were self-inflicted or the result of homicide. At the time of his death, Smith was working on his sixth studio album, From a Basement on the Hill, which was posthumously completed and released in 2004.Click here to read more about Elliot Smith.
Elliot Smith's studio albums:
A timeline of notable moments in Elliot's Life:
Born August 6th 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Begins playing piano at age nine alongside guitar.
Begins writing and recording his first songs after moving to Portland, OR.
After graduating high school, Smith began calling himself “Elliott“, saying that he thought “Steve” sounded too much like a “jock” name, and that “Steven” sounded “too bookish”.
Elliot and Neil Gust, a college friend, form an indie rock band called Heatmiser.
Smith releases Roman Candle, using mostly acoustic guitar with a handful of other instruments, entirely home-recorded on a four-track tape recorder.
Smith releases his third studio album, Either/Or.
Smith becomes a mainstream name with his contributions to the Good Will Hunting soundtrack which included “Between the Bars”, “Say Yes” and “Miss Misery”, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Smith releases XO, his fourth studio album by record label DreamWorks; Smith's first solo album on a major record label.
Smith creates a cover of "Because" by the Beatles for the film American Beauty, winner of Best Picture.
Smith releases his fifth sudio album, Figure 8, which is also the final studio album he releases in his lifetime.
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. ... A possible suicide note, written on a Post-it Note, read: "I'm so sorry—love, Elliott.