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Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith

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Also Known As: Died: October 21, 2003
Born: August 6, 1969 Cause of Death: apparent suicide: self inflicted stab wound to the chest
Birth Place: Dallas, Texas, USA Profession: musician, songwriter, ditch digger

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This soft-spoken cult performer (who often appears in wearing a woolen cap) was catapulted into the spotlight after the success of "Good Will Hunting" (1997), a film to which he had contributed the Oscar-nominated ballad "Miss Misery". Texas native Elliott Smith spent several years as a singer-songwriter in the indie scene in and around Portland, OR. In 1991, he was one of the original founding members of the now-defunct band Heatmiser. As a solo artist, Smith had gained a small but loyal following and he recorded three indie albums marked by intricate melodies written over unorthodox chord changes. Lyrically, his music addressed such dark subject matter as drug addiction, troubled relationships and loneliness--though Smith often distanced himself from the label of confessional songwriter. Director Gus Van Sant, who first became acquainted with Smith's work several years ago, used several of the singer's recordings as background for the underdog drama "Good Will Hunting". While "Miss Misery", a haunting, low-key ballad about making errors and seeking redemption, was composed for the film, five other songs written and sung by Smith were incorporated into the final cut. Several critics favorably...

This soft-spoken cult performer (who often appears in wearing a woolen cap) was catapulted into the spotlight after the success of "Good Will Hunting" (1997), a film to which he had contributed the Oscar-nominated ballad "Miss Misery". Texas native Elliott Smith spent several years as a singer-songwriter in the indie scene in and around Portland, OR. In 1991, he was one of the original founding members of the now-defunct band Heatmiser. As a solo artist, Smith had gained a small but loyal following and he recorded three indie albums marked by intricate melodies written over unorthodox chord changes. Lyrically, his music addressed such dark subject matter as drug addiction, troubled relationships and loneliness--though Smith often distanced himself from the label of confessional songwriter.

Director Gus Van Sant, who first became acquainted with Smith's work several years ago, used several of the singer's recordings as background for the underdog drama "Good Will Hunting". While "Miss Misery", a haunting, low-key ballad about making errors and seeking redemption, was composed for the film, five other songs written and sung by Smith were incorporated into the final cut. Several critics favorably compared Smith's music to that of Simon & Garfunkel's songs used in 1967's "The Graduate". But unlike that pop duo, Smith received the recognition of the Academy.

Pushing his profile higher, he signed a recording contract with DreamWorks which released his album "XO" in the summer of 1998, named one of the year's top 20 albums by Spin magazine. The following year, his cover of the Beatles' "Because" was included on the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film "American Beauty." His latest album, "Figure 8," was issued in 2000; partly recorded at London's Abbey Road studios, it was reminiscent of The Beatles and The Beach Boys' most serious works. Smith had begun writing songs for his sixth solo release, "From a Basement on the Hill," a planned double album but in late 2003 the musician, who had waged a battle with drugs and alcohol which he had once seemed to win, had apparently fallen into the kind of dark, melancoly depression that frequently characterized his music and commited suicide with a single, self-inflicted stab wound to the chest.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll (2001) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised in Texas
1983:
Moved to Portland, Oregon, to live with father and stepmother (date approximate)
1991:
Formed band Heatmiser with Neil Gust
1993:
Heatmiser released first album "Dead Air"
1994:
Released first solo album "Roman Candle"
1997:
Contributed the song "Miss Misery" to the soundtrack of "Good Will Hunting"; nominated for a Best Song Academy Award
1998:
Song "Pitseleh" was heard in the Ben Stiller comedy "Keeping The Faith"
2001:
His song "Needle In The Hay" from his self titled album was used in the award winning feature "The Royal Tenenbaums"
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Education

Hampshire College: Amherst , Massachusetts - 1991

Notes

Commenting on Smith's contribution to "Good Will Hunting", co-star Minnie Driver told New York (March 23, 1998): "It's literally the most important thing in the film. Elliott is like a character you can't see. I can only compare the way his music worls to Simon & Garfunkel's songs in 'The Graduate'."

About his Oscar nomination, Smith told Lisa Robinson of the New York Post (March 20, 1998): "It's a really freakish and happy accident and I'd be thrilled to win, but it wouldn't really mean anything in particular. Whereas I think some of the lucky contestants would really feel like they'd gotten somewhere."

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