Elliott Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska on August 6, 1969.
His father Gary Smith was in medical school at the University of Nebraska, and his mother Bunny was an elementary school teacher. When Elliott was one year old his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to Dallas, Texas. That same year, his father was drafted, assigned to the U.S. Air Force, and sent to the Philippines as a physician. After discharge, his father moved to Los Angeles to complete a psychiatric residency program at UCLA. By the time Elliott was 5, both his father and mother had remarried and his father and stepmother moved to Portland, Oregon. From the age of five to thirteen, Elliott lived with his mother, stepfather and two half-siblings in Dallas. At fourteen, Elliott moved to Portland, OR to live with his father, stepmother, and two half-sisters.
Elliott started to write and record songs at home in Portland on a four-track recorder. Elliott attended Lincoln High School. He graduated in 1987 as a National Merit finalist. While in high school he changed his name to ""Elliott"" and formed his first band, Stranger than Fiction. He attended Hampshire College and graduated in 1991 with a major in political philosophy. After graduation, Elliott moved back to Portland and formed the band Heatmiser along with Neil Gust, his friend and fellow-musician from Hampshire College.
Elliott released his first solo album, roman candle (Cavity Search), in 1994. He followed that disc with elliott smith (1995) and either/or (1997), both issued on the influential independent label Kill Rock Stars. He also recorded three albums with Heatmiser in the early '90s: Dead Air and Cop and Speeder (both on Frontier) and Mic City Sons (Virgin/Caroline).
In 1997 director and Portland resident Gus Van Sant sought Elliott's permission to use some of his songs in the film ""Good Will Hunting"" (Van Sant had been a friend and fan of Smith's since hearing roman candle). Elliott granted it and agreed to write a new song for the picture. That song, ""Miss Misery,"" went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. Elliott performed ""Miss Misery"" on the Academy Awards telecast March 23, 1998.
Elliott signed a solo deal with DreamWorks Records in 1998 and quickly released xo, his fourth solo album. That same year his cover of The Beatles ""Because"" was the end-credit song for the Academy Award winning film ""American Beauty"". In 2000, Smith released figure 8 to much critical success and continued to tour the world as a solo acoustic artist and with his band.
Subsequent to getting off the road in support of figure 8, Smith had begun writing and reworking the songs that make up his forthcoming release, from a basement on a hill. He had realized his long time dream of building his own recording studio and had begun to track quite a few of the new songs. In 2002 & 2003 Elliott's live shows focused on much of the material that found it's way onto from a basement on the hill.
Prior to his death, DreamWorks Records gave Elliott permission to release his sixth album on an independent label of his choice. At the time, Elliott had expressed interest in ANTI-, the label releasing from a basement on a hill.
from a basement on the hill will be released on ANTI- on October 19th, 2004. Elliott completed the 15 songs on this album prior to his death in the Fall of 2003. from a basement on the hill was written, performed, produced and recorded by Elliott. He recorded these songs at new monkey, satellite park, audobahn recording, sunset sound, cherokee recording, fort apache, two beers & everybody sings, chateau brion, and Elliott's homes in Portland and Los Angeles.
from a basement on the hill took its final shape at the same studio where Elliott recorded much of the material on 1998's xo and its 2000 follow-up figure 8. The album features Elliott's final recordings compiled by his immediate family, Joanna Bolme and producer Rob Schnapf, who worked on three of Elliott's albums (either/or, xo, and figure 8 ) and did the final mix on from a basement on the hill.
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