XO, Elliott

Elliott Smith 1969-2003

"While Elliott was living in Portland, [drugs] weren't a problem for him; he just drank and stuff," Krebs says. "I think when he went to New York and Los Angeles, especially L.A., that's what kind of killed him, in a manner of speaking. He was around people who knew him not as Elliott, but as Elliott Smith the rock star."

Smith was involved in a fracas with L.A. County sheriff's deputies at a Flaming Lips/Beck show last November that ended with him in the L.A. County Jail. The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne told Billboard magazine last week that Smith appeared "to have lost control of himself," describing him as "needy" and "grumpy."

Smith told Under the Radar in March that he'd been treated for drug and alcohol addiction at the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center in Beverly Hills, with a process in which his blood was infused with massive amounts of amino acids and proteins, ostensibly restoring neurotransmitters to their pre-abuse state.

Smith was completing an album titled From a Basement on a Hill and had released two songs, "Pretty (Ugly Before)" and "A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity to Be Free," on a limited-edition seven-inch single in August on Seattle's Suicide Squeeze label. He had built a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley and was reportedly shopping the album to independent labels after coming to an agreement with DreamWorks that allowed him a hiatus from his contract.

Whether From a Basement on a Hill will see release is not known at this time, although there is reportedly enough completed music for a full LP. On one track, "King's Crossing," he sings, "Give me one reason not to do it." Other song titles from the album are disturbing as well: "Strung Out Again," "Let's Get Lost," "Shooting Star" and "Fond Farewell."

Smith's suicide, as sadly predictable as it was, significantly lessens the pool of songwriters putting out sublimely beautiful music. His fans, friends and family are left only with memories and an incredible catalogue of recordings by one of the greatest songwriters in recent history.

"I don't have a memory of him as a drug addict or as a crazy person or anything other than my friend -- a really funny, really super-smart, caring person," Krebs says.

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