‘Good Will’ songwriter dies

Smith apparently committed suicide

This article was updated at 2:51 p.m.

HOLLYWOOD — Elliott Smith, a soft-spoken singer-songwriter whose introspective folk music for the film “Good Will Hunting” brought him considerable renown, died Tuesday of an apparent suicide.

Smith, 34, was pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center. An apparent self-inflicted knife wound was found on the body, which was being examined Wednesday by the L.A. County Coroner’s Office.

He died in his Los Angeles apartment, a Coroner’s Office spokesman told the Associated Press.

Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Nebraska; his mother was a singer and his father was a psychiatrist. He spent most of his childhood with his mother in the suburbs of Dallas and then moved to Portland, Ore., while in high school to live with his father.

He studied piano and guitar as a youth and began composing songs when he was 13. He began calling himself Elliott in middle school and was a fixture on the local scene as a teenager with his band Heatmiser.

Smith, a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., issued his first solo disc, “Roman Candle,” in 1994 on the tiny Cavity Search label. In 1995, Smith signed with the Kill Rock Stars, an indie punk and spoken-word label based in Olympia, Wash. He reintroduced dark, sparse and quiet acoustic music to the indie punk scene — sources of inspiration for his tunes appeared to be Nick Drake, Lou Reed and the Beatles.

Two well-received albums followed and director Gus Van Sant, a fan, sought to place songs from those albums in the Matt Damon- and Ben Affleck-penned “Good Will Hunting.” Smith composed songs for the film and his tune “Miss Misery” was nominated for an Oscar.

DreamWorks then signed Smith, releasing two albums. He was working on a third album for the label at the time of his death.

Smith had battled drug addiction for years. He was scheduled to perform next month at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Los Angeles.

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