Elliott Smith – American composer
Elliott Smith was an American composer, the author-performer. His main instrument was the guitar, but he also played the piano, clarinet, bass guitar, harmonica and percussion well. After several years of participation in the Heatmiser rock band, Smith began his solo career. In 1997, Elliot signed a contract with a major record label DreamWorks Records, which released two of his albums (XO and Figure 8).
Smith became known to the general public after his song Miss Misery, written for Gus Van Zant’s Good Will Hunting. Smith was nominated for an Oscar award in 1998 in the category Best Song. For several years Smith suffered from chronic depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. These themes were often reflected in his lyrics.
Steven Paul Smith was born on August 6, 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska. The young Smith was not yet a year old when his parents divorced, the boy growing up in Texas with his mother and a reportedly abusive stepfather. Then he moved to Oregon to be with his father.
At high school the boy had changed his first name, and fronted his first rock band, Stranger Than Fiction. Smith graduated from university in Massachusetts with a degree in philosophy. In college, Elliott founded the musical group Heatmiser with Neil Gust. Heatmiser officially disbanded in 1995, after one short tour in support of Mic City Sons.
Elliott Smith’s debut solo performance took place on September 17, 1994.
His songs were oblique, well-crafted and endlessly haunting. A first album, Roman Candle, was released in 1994.
The singer collected a 1998 Academy nomination for the song Miss Misery, one of several chosen for the Gus Van Zant movie Good Will Hunting.
In 1998, Smith recorded a cover version of The Beatles’ song Because for the movie American Beauty, which was the accompaniment of the final credits of the film.
The musician died on October 21, 2003 at the age of 34. Elliott died from two stab wounds to the chest. Despite knowing him to be a depressive, the authorities weren’t convinced it was suicide. The circumstances surrounding Smith’s death remain unclear.