I found out that same day…

©Peter Ellenby

“I found out that same day… I used to work at a record store in town, and Elliott’s sister worked there too and was called to the hospital from the shop. So the news spread quickly, yet was still kept under wraps. The next day when it officially broke, it was like a whole community gasped for air. We’d been holding our breath, keeping it in, and suddenly we could all say what we were thinking. Why? Wasn’t he doing better? I don’t know, he’d looked awful the last time I saw him… I’d heard he’d been clean for a while. Didn’t he have a new record in the can? Everywhere I walked that day, it seemed Elliott Smith was on every turntable. (My brother happened to be in the Haight Ashbury the day Jerry Garcia died, and he had a similar experience. Except much more patchouli & sweat scented.) Continue reading


He played the Palace two nights in a row

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“He played the Palace two nights in a row in Hollywood during the Figure 8 tour. I remember on the second night after the show I was with friends hanging in the parking lot after the show when we see him walk out the back door of the Palace. We walk over to him and say hello, nice show, blah blah blah. I didn’t say a word. He bummed a smoke and chit chatted for a minute with my friends. Then he says he has to go…and just starts walking down Vine St. to Hollywood Blvd. where he turned and just kept walking by himself, nothing in hand. After playing 2 sold out nights at a mid sized venue – he just walks out the back door and down the street. How fucking punk rock is that?”


Saw Elliott in 1996/7 in a small pinball bar in Kansas


“Saw Elliott in 1996/7 in a small pinball bar in Kansas whilst touring his self titled debut album. Being English in Kansas stood out so i even got to chat to him after the gig. He was a quiet chap who took my enthusiasm well. We chatted about Dischord a lot for some reason and I mentioned Nick Drake as simple base English comparison to him. He had no idea who Nick Drake was, I felt silly.”

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It was a very macho environment

©Jeremy Balderson

“It was a very macho environment, very different from Olympia. Very hypocritical, claiming to be different from the norm but really more of the same.  I can remember there being a lot of animosity towards Elliott going solo.  My hunch is that he was really rejected by the Portland scene, at least a lot of people. It was a very incestuous and dark little scene. Continue reading

When I do a small thing


“When I do a small thing, a thing to help someone out, and they thank me–quietly, maybe shyly–I feel a sense of gratitude, a sense of quiet peace that I’ve made a small difference, even if just for a moment. And I think, Did Elliott Smith ever feel like this?

Did anyone ever thank him for songs–not the loud, often fake cheering that goes on at a concert, or the scary stalking letter of devotion and “you see my soul.” No, I wonder if ever that shy person, overwhelmed by the world and alone, listening to his songs and getting through one more day despite the world’s best effort to break him or her, did Elliott ever hear thanks from them? Did he know what his songs meant? Did he hear from the ones with no voice, too alone to talk, the ones who felt it inside? The ones for whom his songs were the one thing that made some kind of sense, that gave them a gift of beauty?

I didn’t. I never said anything. Continue reading

I used to work late nights at Johnny Rockets as a server

©Alyson Camus
“I used to work late nights at Johnny Rockets as a server. I was closing one night and was able to catch his Kinks tribute show, which I think was at the Derby. It’s a small place and I almost didn’t want to bother him. All I had on me was this dorky hat, and all my friends scrounged up a pen. I went up to him after the show, he was smoking a cigarette, I waited because I didn’t want to bother him. Just then, another fan asked for his autograph and I saw my chance. He was very polite and we struck up a small conversation about music. He asked me if I liked the Kinks and I replied that the Smiths were my favorite band, he said: “I like the Smiths, too”. Great fucking guy. My heart gets heavy remembering this. Sometimes I wish I would have used this moment to tell him how much he meant to me and that he saved me when I was most alone in life. Elliott was there, but I didn’t tell him. Sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference, but it is what it is.

And I’ll always have that moment with my hero.

I love you Elliott and I miss you.

But I know you will always be there for me. See you soon,



I actually got to meet Elliott at a solo acoustic show

©Charlie Gross

“I actually got to meet Elliott at a solo acoustic show less than a year ago. He played the club I bounce at in Echo Park.
Before the show, I went up to him and shook his hand.
We spoke for a few minutes, and he was a genuinely sweet man. The show he played was a benefit. Realizing this, he didn’t submit any kind of guest list. Instead, he gave a list of names to the door person and handed over $15 per person on that list so they could have a ticket waiting for them at the door and have nothing taken away from the cause.
I had never seen anything like this, and I doubt I ever will again.
RIP Elliott.”


I met Elliott not long after this show

©Jennifer Jeffery

“I met Elliott not long after this show, sort of by accident at a house show, didn’t know he was playing & there were only maybe 50 people there. We hit it off right away due to a mutual obsession with Beatles’ recording techniques, must have talked for hours. Ended up knowing him pretty well until the end. What kills me is how happy he was when I last saw him in summer 2003. He was making plans for his record, to move back to NYC, just happy & hopeful, & as funny as ever, Elliott was hilarious.”


I went to church with him for about a year

©Ashley Welch/Heaven Adores You

“I went to church with him for about a year when I was a child. He was five years older than me so I didn’t really know him. In fact to me he was Steve Smith#2 (he changed his name to Elliott later) because there was another Steve Smith that went to our church that was about the same age as him but had attended the church longer. I was friends with his little brother Darren Welch. As a child I could never understand why Darren and his little sister Ashley had different last names than Steve(Elliott). They were the first half siblings I had ever met. Anyway I remember going to their house once and Darren telling me that his brother spent all his time in his room playing music and how strange that seemed to me. I was only eight so my opinion of acceptable activities was entirely composed of watching TV or playing outside. Darren mentioned Elliott had just gotten a tape recorder, I believe it was a multitrack recorder so this could have been when he was first developing his signature style. I believe that while I was there, Darren taught me a coin trick I still remember that I believe his brother had taught him and that I subsequently used in my fifth grade talent show.
I remember one Sunday in church it was announced that Elliott had won first place in the school district arts competition for music writing. I always entered a drawing or a story in the art competition but never won anything. But Elliott’s victory got me thinking that if I entered a song in the contest the next year I’d probably be the only person in that category in my age group and would win by default. So in next years competition I made a music staff on a piece of school paper, I doubt I put a clef on it, and just started putting random notes on the lines. I didn’t win. In fact a few months after the competition I found my “song” crumpled up in a cubbyhole in my fourth grade classroom with a note on it, probably from my teacher, wondering what they should do with it since it was the only submission in the song writing category. However, even though I didn’t win I do believe that it makes me the first person to ever be inspired by Elliott Smith to write a really bad song.”