BMI Singer/Songwriter Elliott Smith Dies

Posted in News on October 23, 2003
Academy Award-nominated BMI songwriter Elliott Smith died October 21 of an apparent suicide, officials said. The melancholy performer, once called the "unhappiest man in the land," was found by his girlfriend in the kitchen of their Los Angeles apartment with a single stab wound to the chest. He was 34.

Smith, who earned an Oscar nod in 1997 for the original song "Miss Misery" from the film Good Will Hunting, had been battling drug and alcohol addiction for years but was supposedly sober for the past year. "He was in the middle of writing his next record. He had recorded a good chunk of it. He was incredibly optimistic," DreamWorks executive Luke Woode told Reuters. He was working on his sixth studio album, tentatively titled From A Basement On The Hill.  

Born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska, he grew up in Dallas and Portland, Oregon where he began writing songs as a teenager, changing his name to Elliott because Steve sounded too "jockish." After graduating from college in Amherst, Mass., he returned to Portland and started a punk band with a college friend called Heatmiser with whom he recorded three albums. He released his debut solo album in 1994 entitled Roman Candle (Cavity Search), followed in 1995 by Elliott Smith and in 1997 by Either/Or both on independent label Kill Rock Stars. He signed to DreamWorks in 1998 soon after his performance on the Oscar telecast and released XO and 2000's Figure 8. In 1999, his cover of the Beatles' song "Because" was included on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning movie American Beauty and in August of this year, Smith released the vinyl single, "Pretty (Ugly Before)," with the flip side, "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free," his first recorded work since Figure 8.