Elliot Smith’s Long Good-Bye

A decade after the death of the singer-songwriter, his musical legacy remains vibrant in Silver Lake


Elliott Smith seemed optimistic after he moved to Los Angeles in 1999. “There’s no weird pressure on me to be some kind of…rock star,” the singer-songwriter, known for his Oscar-nominated tune “Miss Misery,” said of his newly adopted city to a music magazine in 2000. “I can just do my thing and not worry about it.” Doing his thing meant tapping into the local landscape. For his fifth studio album, Figure 8, Smith was photographed in front of the swirl-shaped mural outside Solutions Audio-Video Repair, near Sunset and Fountain, making the 74-year-old shop an indie rock landmark. On October 21, 2003, Smith, who openly struggled with depression and addiction problems, died from multiple stab wounds (Torment Saint, a new Smith biography out this month, delves into the conflicting accounts of his death). The “Elliott Smith Memorial Wall” endures, attracting fans and artists who express themselves, though it’s fair to say his biggest admirer may be Solutions’ owner, Stephon Lew: “He was the type of guy who, the first time you met him, invited you to play guitar with him.” If only he could’ve played a lot longer.

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