Why It Is Important To Know How Elliott Smith Died

Written by | February 16, 2015 0:06 am | 4 responses


Elliott Smith in 1999

Many people regularly ask me why it’s so important for me to know how Elliott Smith died. But isn’t it obvious? Aren’t the cause of death and the circumstances around it always relevant when we think about a deceased artist? People always say, we want to celebrate his life and his music and not his death,… sure, but death is part of life, it is attached to Elliott Smith’s persona and there is no way it doesn’t affect the way we look at his music and life.

People are so uninformed about the way Elliott died that it is scary. But nobody should be surprised by this, it’s true for everything these days, the more information there is, the less people know. All the information about his death is out there, all over the internet, but still, you stumble on comments on YouTube or after articles in major publications, like this ones:

‘It was in fact ruled a suicide after charges were dropped against her….’

‘he commit suicide no doubt. He was a sad guy, and he stabbed himself in the through the ribs, which is a very painful way to die. Kurt Cobain could’ve been murdered. Elliott Smith, not a chance, someone saw him do it.’

I don’t know where these people get their information, The Smoking Gun showing the autopsy report is still online but it’s true there is a lot of confusion in the media. Still, misinformation is one thing, and these are not the comments which bother me the most. The worst comments fall into several categories. First you have the ones which draw a direct conclusion from his lyrics, like for example:

‘If you have done your research as much as you say you have, you’d know that Elliott had tried to kill himself before by jumping off a cliff, his lyrics very often reflect suicide and that he’s not afraid to die.’

What a poor analysis of anything that Elliott has written! But the thought is so commonplace on the internet that it reinforces my desire to discover the truth. Too many people want the simple equation, ‘lyrics interpreted as sad = suicide’, to be true. I would even say that these people are in love with the idea. In his interviews, Elliott has always been clear that his songs were not diaries, ‘It’s less about me and more about what might be interesting about my situation. If we were really going to talk about my specific life then I couldn’t do that. The songs are like little movies that you can watch if you want, they’re not supposed to make people feel like I do.’ But I know, he spoke more than 10 years ago and his voice is fading away…

Secondly, you find comments coming from people who have a problem with suicide, and who end up accusing Elliott of the worst. He becomes the coward whom everyone should blame and hate for what he did:

‘I just have a serious problem with articles that try and glorify people who kill themselves. This was a drug addict who killed himself. It’s tragic. Absolutely. And I liked Smith’s music. It’s one thing to die of an overdose, like Joplin or Hendrix. But this wasn’t the case. Smith, like Cobain, had obvious mental problems. Smith’s death wasn’t a tragedy like Lennon. That was a tragedy. Being shot in the prime of your life with a new baby and wife. Smith’s death was a tragedy because a man who had severe problems – mental and drug – either didn’t know where to turn for help or thought he was beyond help. But let’s not romanticize the guy’s life. He stabbed himself to death. Think about that. Not a quick shotgun or jump from a high building. He stabbed himself. That not only inflicts a lot of pain, but is not the quickest way to go.’

‘Seriously? HE killed himself. Due to drugs. Why is he being celebrated?’

‘Maybe if he didn’t kill himself I’d have more respect for the man, I like his tunes though, stupid dude ridding the earth of awesome tunes from a dumb argument with a girl- my opinion depression is not an illness it’s a state of mind you can easily get yourself out of depression but all these docs mind fudge you into thinking there’s no hope take these pills…’

Obviously these people are idiots, who not only don’t understand what suicide is, but also insult Elliott’s memory,… and as someone who tries to read all the comments I find, I see this a lot!

When he was alive, Elliott said it many times, he hated the myth people have created around him, just listen to him:

‘I don’t want to perpetuate the myth. It doesn’t have anything to do with the music… Well, it does. There’s some stuff about doctors and infirmaries and stuff on the new record and it does have something to do with that, but I don’t want to perpetuate the notion that if somebody plays music they must be fucked up or crazy. mostly I don’t like that whole myth because if you’re a kid and all you can ever hear is that people who are in your favorite band are really weird and unlike everybody else, it seems like you have to be unusual to make good music.’

‘I don’t think it [the tortured artist myth] is glamorous in the least. It winds up being another part of your cartoon costume, because then it’s supposed to stand in for actual life – not that it matters what my actual life is. I don’t have any desire to try and put across my life to people.’

Why it is so important to know how Elliott Smith died? Isn’t it obvious? For all the reasons above! As my suspicion has grown bigger every day with my research, I want more than ever the truth to come out, because all the clichés that people come up with are damaging for Elliott’s memory and his work.


4 Responses to “Why It Is Important To Know How Elliott Smith Died”

  1. Dustin M

    The autopsy was inconclusive meaning they couldn’t say 100% it was a suicide. A media outlet spun this story because there was an easy conspiracy to be made out of it. Lots of people do read about it, but actually, the people who believe in the murder theory make up pretty small chunk of Elliott Smith fans. There are a few unusual things that could point to a possible murder. Then, there are TONS of things about the entire situation that very strongly point to suicide.

    I know you conspirators hate it when people say, Elliott was a sad man, with a very troubled history. But like… Isn’t that relatively true? He had a small obsession over the topic… Personally I think being suicidal is a good argument for why he killed himself. You can’t argue that he fit the bill for a suicide candidate. The multiple excerpts of him discussing it, he wrote of it in music, and attempted to kill himself at least a couple times before when he was younger. Once he jumped off a cliff when drunk, out of nowhere which kind of gives a hint towards his poor impulse control. Landed in a tree luckily.

    At the very least, Elliott seemed way more suicidal than Jennifer Cheeba seemed homicidal. And considering suicide is much more common than murder, it just seems like for Cheeba to stab Elliott in the heart because of a spat is a very unlikely scenario. Plus, she called the ambulance. Stabbing your partner in the heart is an extremely violent and crazy act.
    Sure, it’s an odd way to kill yourself, but taking all that into account, it just seems like the odds of it being a suicide are overwhelming.

    Anyway, to each their own. I can’t deny some of the opposing evidence is just enough to leave at least a shadow of doubt in anyone’s mind. Which is a drag. No one can be certain and I’ll always wonder “what if?”.
    I absolutely love Elliott, he’s my favourite human to have ever lived! I do notice lots of fans always saying “why talk about his death? focus on his life” or whatever… Why not? It’s a compelling story, though tragic. Makes for good conversation sometimes if not done to death. Well I’m gonna throw on some From a Basement on the Hill… What a great album.

    • Alyson

      ‘an easy conspiracy to be made out of it’… first of all, Elliott’s death is not a conspiracy in the sense that nobody conspired to kill him to my knowledge. If it was murder, it was done in a moment of rage, it has nothing to do with the definition of conspiracy theory.

      ‘Once he jumped off a cliff when drunk, out of nowhere which kind of gives a hint towards his poor impulse control.’
      This story has been ‘debunked’ many times, it was not a suicide attempt, he was drunk and it was very dark, he ran away with other people and he didn’t know there was a cliff. He didn’t want to kill himself.That’s a fact.

      ‘Elliott seemed way more suicidal than Jennifer Cheeba seemed homicidal.’ Do you know her? Do you know her past? Because I have heard some pretty disturbing stories about this woman. By the way it’s Chiba. I have met Elliott several times, talked to him, and I met Chiba a few times too.

      ‘considering suicide is much more common than murder.’ I don’t know where you get this, but everything is about context and method. We are talking about stabbing here, and suicide by stabbing is way way less common than murder by stabbing, I have numbers to back this up, suicide by stabbing makes less than 2% of suicide cases, and stabbing is one of the most common means of homicide. Plus, can you imagine stabbing yourself in the middle of a domestic abuse (they were fighting, neighbors heard the fight, it was very loud)? On the other hand, homicides are very common during domestic fights, and a knife is the most common weapon. Statistics are completely against your affirmation.

      ‘Stabbing your partner in the heart is an extremely violent and crazy act’…. and stabbing yourself in the heart is not an extremely violent and crazy act???? And he did it in front of his partner to add another level of horror, something to scar her for life. Plus have you read the opinion of the forensic expert (he is an expert about stabbing: https://justiceforelliottsmithcom.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/a-forensic-pathologist-re-examines-elliott-smiths-autopsy-report/). Elliott had bone injuries, which are a strong indication of murder.

      There is a big difference between suicide ideation and stabbing yourself in the chest, twice, while injuring your sternum, ribs, without taking the time to remove your clothes to find an easy place to plunge the knife.

      Your only argument toward suicide is, he talked about suicide, he was sad —> so he killed himself. I did a bit more research than this believe me. Most people ignore details and facts and just make assumptions based on their personal experience and a feeling they have, and this is regrettable.

      The problem about ignoring his death and drawing easy conclusion is that it affects deeply how people perceive his work and music. Elliott was much more than a sad man.


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