Singer/Songwriter Elliott Smith Dies
Singer/songwriter Elliott Smith was discovered in his Los Angeles apartment yesterday (Oct. 21) after an apparent suicide attempt, an L.A. County Coroner's Office spokesperson confirms. Smith, 34, wasSinger/songwriter Elliott Smith was discovered in his Los Angeles apartment yesterday (Oct. 21) after an apparent suicide attempt, an L.A. County Coroner's Office spokesperson confirms. Smith, 34, was pronounced dead yesterday afternoon at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center.
An apparent self-inflicted knife wound was found on the body, which will be examined today by the coroner's office. There were no signs of foul play.
"We are deeply saddened by Elliott Smith's tragic death and send our condolences to his friends and family," Smith's label, DreamWorks Records, said in a statement. "He was perhaps his generation's most gifted songwriter. His enormous talent could change your life in a whisper. We will miss him."
"I cannot tell you how much I am going to miss him," Smith's touring guitarist Shon Sullivan tells Billboard.com. "He was one of the sweetest people I've ever known and worked with, as well as writing some of the most beautiful songs ever. He seriously was a musical genius. He played all the instruments on his records. Having him for a friend and playing in his band was one the highlights of my life. My heart goes out to him and his family."
The Portland, Ore.-born Smith battled drug addiction for several years and frequently sung about the subject through a series of acclaimed albums for Kill Rock Stars and DreamWorks. "Miss Misery," his contribution to the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting," was nominated for the best song Oscar, and several of his songs appeared on the Capitol soundtrack.
"Most of those songs were recorded in a friend's warehouse space on 8-track," he told Billboard in 1998. "I didn't have any idea that they would be playing in a big movie theater. I didn't have any idea that Matt Damon and Minnie Driver would be making out with one of my songs in the background."
Smith operated largely outside the standard major-label procedures, preferring to focus on his craft. "[DreamWorks seems] to have ideas about what to do, and sometimes they'll run those ideas by me, and if one seems really like something I wouldn't want, they seem fine with me saying so," he told Billboard in a separate 1998 interview, prior to the release of his label debut, "XO." "By and large, I kind of stay out of it."
The artist had been working on a new studio album for DreamWorks, "From a Basement on the Hill," but the project had been on and off the label's release schedule for some time. Smith recently issued a two-song single on the independent Suicide Squeeze label; the limited edition run of 5,000 copies quickly sold out.
Over the past year, he returned to performing live, but the shows were often erratic, leading some to believe that Smith was again battling addiction.
Smith was slated to perform next month at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Los Angeles.