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Profile of Elliott Smith

Singer / Songwriter
Date Of Birth:
6 August 1969
Date Of Death:
21 October 2003
stabbing
Place Of Birth:
Omaha, Nebraska
Best Known As:
The singer of "Miss Misery" who stabbed himself

Name at birth: Steven Paul Smith

Elliott Smith was nominated for an Oscar for the song "Miss Misery," but he's mostly famous as a singer/songwriter whose songs from the 1990s created a loyal following among the sad kids of grunge music. His mysterious stabbing death at the age of 34 only added to his image as a tragic figure. Smith was raised in Texas until he was in high school, when he moved to Portland, Oregon. That's where he excelled at school, music, alcohol abuse and heroin addiction. After graduating in 1991 from Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Smith returned to Portland and co-founded the hard-rocking band Heatmiser. While Heatmiser was gaining fans in the Pacific Northwest, Smith began making solo recordings in 1994. Eventually, the success of his solo work took over. At a time when heavy "grunge" music was popular, Smith found a crowd for his acoustic guitar, whispery voice and lonesome songs of alienation. He also caught the attention of filmmaker Gus Van Sant, who got Smith to contribute to the music of Good Will Hunting (1997, starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon). Despite the critical success of his Oscar-nominated song from the movie, Smith never quite made it big -- except to his loyal fans who sought fellowship in his songs of depression and loneliness. His last years were a rollercoaster of ups in his career and downs filled with talk of suicide. Smith was reportedly on an upswing at the time of his death in 2003, but the official version of his death is that he died from self-inflicted wounds -- he stabbed himself in the heart. There are, however, enough loose ends from the investigation to keep speculators speculating, and they have been since his death. His albums include Roman Candle (1994), Either/Or (1997) and Figure 8 (2000).