Elliott Smith Net Worth

How much is Elliott Smith worth?

Net Worth:$400 Thousand
Profession:Professional Singer
Date of Birth:August 6, 1969 (aged 34)
Country:United States of America
5 ft 8 in (1.75 m)

About Elliott Smith

Known for his hushed, downcast, sad-hearted songs. Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith became popular with many fans around the world. Primarily playing the guitar Smith also played piano, clarinet, bass guitar, drums, and harmonica. Smith had a distinctive vocal style that was perhaps brought on from an early life of childhood abuse and drug addiction. He had what became characterized as a “whispery, spiderweb-thin delivery” which he delivered with his equally unique voice. Considered the ultimate depressed artist, many were were drawn to his music and still are. Despite his suicide in 2003.

American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Smith had an estimated net worth of $400 thousand dollars at the time of his death, in 2003. Smith was working on his sixth studio album, From a Basement on the Hill, which was posthumously completed and released in 2004.

“When people talk about how I’m all gloom, it makes me feel bad,” Smith once lamented, to In Music We Trust. “Nobody wants to be described as depressing.”

Early Years

Elliott Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, and was raised in Dallas by his mother and a step-father. Like many young and creative people Smith had a troubled youth and an even more troubled relationship with his step-father. He later came to believe that his step-father had sexually abused him.

“Most of the people I knew, their parents were divorced. Or else their Dad beat them with a pool cue. There was a guy in the neighborhood who shot my cat for getting into the garbage,” Smith recounted.

“It’s probably pretty easy to put together why somebody who grew up in Texas getting in fights a lot would not want to get up on the stage and start belting out songs at the top of their lungs,” he said to Rolling Stone in 1998. “I’ve had enough of people yelling.”

When he was 14 years old Smith moved to Portland to live with his birth father. At that time he also got a tattoo of a map of Texas. This for him was a way of staying true to where he had been in his life and the road that he was traveling on. “I didn’t get it because I like Texas, kinda the opposite,” he told Comes with a Smile.

Smith’s father who encouraged him to play guitar, and he was also inspired by the music that he had been listening to growing up. Namely Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Elvis Costello. He started playing in the Stranger Than Fiction and A Murder of Crows while still in high-school.

After that, Smith began recording on a four-track tape machine. The song”Condor Ave,” made it to his first solo album released in 1994, Roman Candle.

Smith studied philosophy and legal theory after graduation at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He soon began calling himself ‘Elliot’ instead of Steven and soon after met Neil Gust. Neil Gust became the person who would later form Heatmiser with the now Elliot Smith.

Smith and Gust found bassist Brandt Peterson and drummer Tony Lash after moving back to Portland. Their playing grew louder which was not however to Smith’s liking. “More and more people were coming to our shows that were the kind of people who would have kicked me and Neil’s ass in high school,” Smith is documented as having said.

Heatmiser released their first two records, 1993’s Dead Air and 1994’s Cop and Speeder. Even with the louder recordings that Smith had wanted he saw it as some success stemming from his passion for music but vowed to himself to do more in the quieter genre.

At home, Smith was recording his quiet songs, but playing them live “didn’t occur” to him he has said. “At the time it was the northwest —Mudhoney and Nirvana— and going out to play an acoustic show was like crawling out on a limb and begging for it to be sawed off,” he told Magnet.

Everything changed for Elliot when, in 1994, his then-girlfriend impressed by his sound pressured him to send off his recordings to local label Cavity Search Records for possible release.


Cavity Search Records was at the time owned by Christopher Cooper, and he was very impressed by Smith’s music. In fact while Smith at most was considering the possibility of a two song release, Cooper offered to release nine recordings as an album. Roman Candle came out in 1994 and according to Smith it “immediately eclipsed” Heatmiser.

Then in 1995, Smith released another solo album, a self-titled set. This time for Kill Rock Stars, and Smith’s solo career was made. Many would consider the album influenced from heroin addiction, but Smith has said otherwise. “Talking about drugs —why people do drugs and how they feel about it— just leads you to the same things as talking about relationships and people in love.”

Going on to become one of his most famous songs “Needle in the Hay” has the lyric “You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks,” which is considered to possessess a double meaning. Smith himself later described the song as “a big ‘f**k you’ to anybody and everybody.”

Heatmiser would eventually breakup after Smith gained traction on his own. In fact it was during the making of their final LP, Mic City Sons.

Heatmiser was signed to Virgin Records. Later on in his career, Smith claimed that they had told him that they only signed Heatmiser so that they would be in a position to sign Smith as a solo artist. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but Gust was certainly outshone by Smith by the record labels estimation as per Smith.

Smith was recording his third album Either/Or and, after its release in 1997, it formed his big breakout as he gained popularity nationwide.

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie would later say: “I remember the summer of ’97 as the summer of Either/Or, because that’s all that anyone I knew was listening to.”

While of somewhat dark persona and pessimistic, Smith said about it, “I remember that record most fondly even though I nearly had a nervous breakdown.”

After moving to New York Smith fell into a steep depression and is said to have drunk heavily while trying to avoid using drugs. Allegedly he had tried to commit suicide more than once. He had leaped off a cliff in North Carolina, but was caught by a tree that broke his fall almost completely. “Yeah, I jumped off a cliff,” he admitted to an interviewer not long after, “but let’s talk about something else.”

Smith’s personal life was almost in tatters while his earlier work was becoming majorly popular and his earnings were increasing. By this time his net worth is estimated to have been close to $950 thousand. It didn’t matter. It couldn’t take the edge off and it only made scoring heroine easier.

American film director, producer, photographer, and musician Gus Van Sant, had become friends with Smith having attended some of his early shows and expressed his admiration for his music. It was still Gus Van Sant’s early days, today we know him from his directing of Elephant, Milk and Last Days. At that time Van Sant was known really only for My Own Private Idaho.

Van Sant had signed on to direct a screenplay by then-upstart actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting. As it turned out he wanted to use Smith’s songs throughout the movie.

“At some point, he mentioned putting some songs in the movie, but I had no idea there would be so many of them and that they would be so prominent,” Smith said, to Magnet, in ’98.

Good Will Hunting became unbelievably popular scoring nine Academy Awards nominations. But so it was, as Smith’s career reached new heights his mental health deteriorated.

“After Either/Or, the Oscar stuff happened and that kind of derailed my train. Although it took a lot for it to fully derail.” Elliot Smith

The Oscars

Among the Academy Awards nominations, Elliott Smith was named for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was for “Miss Misery” which was a song that he had written specifically for Good Will Hunting.

Smith didn’t want to perform at the Oscars and so they returned saying that instead “Richard Marx” would perform it instead. Smith folded and showing up in a white suit which was an easy target for commercial media calling him a “Beck wannabe”. But sitting on a chair he managed to make it work.

“I walked out and Jack Nicholson was sitting about six feet away, so I avoided that area and I looked up at the balcony in the back and sang the song. It was surreal enough that it didn’t seem like it happened to me,” Smith has said of the occasion. “Everything was in slow motion, and I didn’t feel particularly nervous. I just felt like I was in some odd dream that was probably meant for someone else. Everyone was really nice, but the point of the show is the show. It’s certainly not me. The point of it is to have a big parade of celebrities.”

The Dreamworks Years

Smith signed to the (co-owned by Steven Spielberg) label Dreamworks and began recording his fourth album, XO. He was at this time with Beck’s producers, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, in Los Angeles. It was released in 1998.

At this time Smith also toured to promote the XO album. Things were getting worse though in his personal life and despite trying to stay away from hard drugs he had by his own omission become “a really bad alcoholic”. What’s worse he began getting into bar-fights and while he was still alive claimed that he had a broken nose and other injuries from his scuffles.

In the 2000s while recording Figure 8 Elliot had moved to Los Angeles and was between their and London where part of the album was also being made. He was at London’s Abbey Road, the very same studio made famous by The Beatles.

However although there were some clear months in the year 2000, Smith was soon thrust into a heroine addiction cycle again that took him to his knees.

Figure 8 would be the last album Elliot Smith would ever record. It was released in 2000.

The Sad Demise of Elliott Smith

While making an effort to try and record what was supposed to be his sixth LP, From a Basement on a Hill. The project was soon discontinued and was only ever half complete. Smith was just too much in a headspin on heroine to be able to properly operate. It turned out that the downs weren’t enough for him anymore and Elliot had turned to crack cocaine to bring him up again. The beginning of the end no doubt.

Producer Jon Brion who had been trying to work on From a Basement on a Hill, in 2000. Tried to snap Elliot out of it with an intervention but as the singer got wind of it he stopped seeing Brion altogether and therein ended any hope of the album ever being released complete.

Rumors began to circulate about Smith passing out in toilet stalls in Los Angeles clubs, others reported seeing him walking barefoot at all hours of the night.

People tried to help him and he made an effort but after suffering a disastrous show at Northwestern University. Matters just became worse. Smith couldn’t even sing a single song in almost an hour at the Northwestern show.

In 2002 Smith got into a brawl with police and was arrested with his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba. After a month at the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center, it seemed like he was all better.

In 2003, in higher spirits, Smith went back to trying to record From A Basement on a Hill while just working with Chiba’s band, Happy Ending.

Smith’s Mysterious Death

In the end it wasn’t heroine or crack cocaine that got him. It wasn’t bar-fights or brawls. On October 21, 2003, Elliot had been in a blow up with Chiba and she had locked herself in a bathroom according to her reports. When she came out her eyes were met with Smith with a knife in his chest. After being rushed as quickly as possible to the hospital he was pronounced dead just after arrival with two stab wounds that entered his heart.

“The location and direction of the stab wounds are consistent with self-infliction, several aspects of the circumstances are atypical of suicide and raise the possibility of homicide,” the coroner’s report read.

There was a suicide note that had been allegedly found by Chiba. It was just a Post It note but was taken in to evidence and read, “I’m so sorry, love, Elliott. God forgive me”

Posthumous Output and Legacy

Finally after years of trying to release this single album, From a Basement on a Hill, it was released as is. It included tracks “A Fond Farewell,” “The Last Hour,” and “Shooting Star,” which many found to be premonitionary or at least, eerie.

In 2007, a 2CD set of early rarities were released by New Moon. It included an early version of Elliot’s most famous song, “Miss Misery.” As well as other recordings that he had made while recording on Kill Rock Stars.

“Song after song, he took life’s pain, joy and longing and turned them into real beauty,” Crackerbash songsmith Sean Croghan wrote.

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