He was the Oscar nominated composer who wrote the haunting song for the movie ‘Good Will Hunting.’ He was also the one who trashed his performances due to his alcoholism and drug addiction. He was also the one who allegedly took his own life because of severe depression and mental instability caused by drug abuse. He is none other than Steven Paul ‘Elliott’ Smith. He was born in Nebraska but he spent most of his life in Portland. He was a renowned musician, as he was very skillful in playing different kinds of instruments such as harmonica, drums, acoustic and bass guitars, piano, keyboard, and clarinet.
Before he started focusing on his solo career, he started an alternative rock band in Oregon named Heatmiser together with close friend and classmate Neil Gust. The band recorded and released three albums and an EP. Smith was also working on his solo project during his stint in Heatmiser. However, the steadfast growth in his solo career’s popularity caused problems between him and his bandmates. Eventually, the band broke up and Smith continued to work on his solo efforts.
In 1994, he released his first album ‘Roman Candle.’ At first, he was surprised when he sent his demo tape to Cavity Search Records, an independent recording label. He was only expecting at least a seven-inch record deal because it is directly opposite to the trend of that time (grunge music from Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains were the trend that time) but the label gave him the opportunity to record a full album. The album was successful, as it sold thousands of copies even if it was from an indie label. This album was followed by his sophomore album ‘Either/Or.’ His dilemma with alcoholism and drug abuse began during the release of his second album.
Afterwards, he performed ‘Miss Misery’ at the Academy Awards and released his third and fourth albums XO and Figure 8 respectively. XO sold 400,000 copies, which serves as Smith’s most successful album. It was also the time wherein he is slowly succumbing to depression, as he verbally addressing the idea of suicide among his friends.
As years passed, his struggle with keeping himself intact became much more difficult. At a performance in Chicago, he went onstage, attempted to play some songs, but never finished anything. Some critics said that it was one of the worst performances by a musician in recent years.
He tried to fix his problems as he tried admitting himself to rehab. He also tried refraining from consuming alcohol, red meat, caffeine, and some of his medications. Many people were convinced that Smith is on his way to a better life; away from the demons that take over his life.
On October 21, 2003, he died due to two stab wounds on his chest, allegedly inflicted by himself. However, authorities are not disclosing the angle of homicide because his girlfriend Chiba was at the crime scene when Smith died.
Notable Songs by Elliott Smith:
- A Fond Farewell
- King’s Crossing
- Miss Misery
- Good to Go