Prague. Outside a museum.

“Prague. Outside a museum. There are strings and I think you can see them in the original. He made a photocopy. There are two more of my photos on his records. I took the photo of the Ferris wheel on the back of one (Vienna) and there is a picture of a boy playing a keyboard sitting on a barrel in Portugal.”

JJ Gonson

My wife did the Ferdinand tattoo

“My wife did the Ferdinand tattoo on Elliott back in ’91. Here is a scan of the stencil for anyone interested. I still have the book that Elliott gave us to draw the image from, along with this stencil. Elliott also showed up with a bottle of Schlitz malt liquor and had a great struggle to land on what bull to get tattooed on his arm, Ferdinand or the Schlitz bull. I think he chose correctly. What I remember so well about this tattoo was that my wife was just learning how to tattoo and that tattoo of Ferdinand was the first tattoo she ever did. Elliott was so poor that he could not pay for it, instead buying us a pitcher of beer at a local bar. Continue reading

Elliott had no romantic relationship with Jennifer


“Elliott had no romantic relationship with Jennifer for a number of months after he split with Valerie and moved into Jennifer’s home.  He had alienated or cut himself off from everyone close to him, so he was vulnerable in a way he hadn’t been before.  I do not believe he ever would have become involved with Jennifer were that not the case.”



I used to do catering at the Fillmore in San Francisco


“I used to do catering at the Fillmore in San Francisco so I used to serve all the bands and watch all their sound checks. Elliott Smith was touring Figure 8 for two nights and both days for his sound check played the entire Abbey Road medley to warm up. A blast to see cause he didn’t play any of it during the shows themselves.It was June 5 + 6 of 2000. I still have the posters, one is framed above my LPs and stereo. It was one of my fondest memories of doing catering at the Fillmore. He seemed very sad that day but was most likely just shy. I actually know his music quite well and was a big fan and will always cherish sitting in the box by the sound man listening to Elliott and the band play the medley to just the crew and staff of the Fillmore. I am still looking to see if he ever played it in an actual show.”


I don’t know how that story developed


“I don’t know how that story developed around Everything Means Nothing to Me. I mean, I don’t know why he told that story to David McConnell, and I’m not sure I’d like to know. He probably didn’t think it would spread and become some kind of post-mortem statement adding to the nauseating pile of hindsight wisdom meant to “explain” him and his alleged “suicide”. It really bothers me. That song was very important to him, but not in any negative or self indulgent way. When he discussed it with me in early 2000, there wasn’t any blood or drama involved, it was still a “new” song at the time, and he was proud and protective of it. Continue reading

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

nsw (1)

“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.”

Rocket 75

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