A few weeks ago, a blind item posted on the website Crazydaysandnights was brought to my attention, with the idea that this could well be about Elliott Smith. This is what was posted:
Think back to the biggest violent Rock Deaths of the last few decades and one will probably stand out.
This is NOT that death. But think within a decade or so. Same coast, different style, different music, different weapon.
Like the big death, conspiracy theories abounded about possible foul play. Focusing on someone close to The Late Musician. These theories are both convincing and enduring.
What they don’t tell you is that this theory is perpetuated and supported online still after all these years by certain family members of The Late Musician. It is very much in their best interest to keep these conspiracies active and growing because it directs attention away from information that might make them look culpable in other, more indirect ways, for his untimely and tragic death.
Due to the litigious nature of these people, confidants, biographers, and journalists have only been able to hint at the nightmare childhood The Late Musician endured. Not only abuse from a close family member but at the hands of others with the full knowledge and enabling of said family member. He wasn’t the only one who was hurt either. The Late Musician spoke about this often and unambiguously, off the record, shortly before his death. His next record was going to explicitly tell all.
The family member contacted him again, repeatedly. It contributed to a slide into paranoia, shame, and despair.
If friends (or family) of The Late Musician even look like they might make accusations of the #metoo variety the lawyers will quickly put an end to them. The worst part is that they use the profits from his music to do this. People are silenced almost before they can open their mouths.
It will, perhaps, come to light one day in the future. I hope so. He was a sweet human being and no one deserves what he went through. ‘
I had no clues about this website, but simple research told me it is run by a lawyer nicknamed ‘Enty’, the mysterious ‘Blind Item King’, who has already been the subject of high profile articles in the Daily Beast and Vanity Fair. Looking at these articles, it’s easy to see he has made important revelations in the past, concerning celebrities from Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer to Harvey Weinstein, and a few big fish who went recently down.
Investigative journalist Mark Ebner (one of only 20 people who knows the blogger’s real-life identity) had this to say: ‘Enty Lawyer is like the anti-Perez Hilton. In my opinion, that’s what makes him so impressive, is that no one knows who he is, and he’s being proven right again and again. That’s like legendary shit.’
So the guy apparently knows what he is talking about and this surely isn’t limited to the #metoo movement.
When I saw the blind item, I was first skeptical, would Enty even consider to write about Elliott whereas most of his stuff concerns big Hollywood celebrities? Sure the beginning fitted very well: ‘This is NOT that death. But think within a decade or so. Same coast, different style, different music, different weapon’, something you can see as a reference to the other big death in rock ‘n’ roll in the last decades, Kurt Cobain, who died about 10 years before Elliott.
But there is no more guessing game as the blind item was revealed to be indeed about Elliott Smith.
Now what? What does this tell us we don’t already know? The alleged abuse has already been mentioned each time an article or a book about Elliott was published, and the idea is present in many of Elliott’s songs. ‘Roman Candle’, his first solo album, as many other songs, allude to the abuse. It is a fact he has endured hell as a child and teenager, we just don’t know the exact nature of the abuse.
Enty is talking about others being enablers and I have no problem with imagining it was the case, as abusers have enablers. Guessing who exactly were the enablers could be pure speculation, but it’s easy to think they could be close family members.
As for the accusations of the #metoo variety, it is entirely possible, as you can interpret a few songs in this sense (Waltz #2 for example), and just read all the lyrics of Southern Belle! Bunny, Elliott’s mother, may have been a victim of Charlie too.
So all these affirmations fit very well, but I cannot confirm a few other points:
#1. ‘His next record was going to explicitly tell all’
I know that the family didn’t want the song ‘Abuse’ on the record, however, saying that the record was going to be a tell-all, is not knowing Elliott’s work very well. His songs were never totally autobiographical and Elliott intended to put on his album many of the songs which actually ended up on the posthumous album. So I don’t buy the censorship largely advertised by Chiba’s supporters. Some songs were indeed discarded but not always for the reasons that come to mind first: ‘Suicide Machine’ was not on the record, but if you read the lyrics, it is the opposite of a song about wanting to kill yourself!
#2 ‘The family member contacted him again, repeatedly. It contributed to a slide into paranoia, shame, and despair’. Liam Gowing alluded to this in his article, and yes, it was said that Charlie and the family wanted to come for Thanksgiving. I have no doubt the idea made Elliott uncomfortable, but this was an argument used by Gowing to support the idea of suicide, the ‘facing his old demons’ idea. And I have also heard that Elliott wanted to forgive, so who knows where is the truth.
#3 ‘Due to the litigious nature of these people, confidants, biographers, and journalists have only been able to hint at the nightmare childhood The Late Musician endured. […] They use the profits from his music to do this. People are silenced almost before they can open their mouths.’
This is the part that I definitively cannot confirm. If it is true, this means that the family has threatened to sue people who wanted to investigate the abuse allegations. Liam Gowing made allusion to this but I have never found any document that could confirm. One important thing is that there are really 2 families, the family of Gary Smith (biological father) and the family of Bunny Welch (the biological mother married to Charlie Welch, the alleged abuser), and the two sides do not really communicate or speak to each other. If threats were made, they had to come from the Welches not from the Smiths, and, to my knowledge, the estate was run by Marta Greenwald who is married to Gary Smith. So the ‘They use the profits from his music to do this’ is a dubious statement for several reasons. I don’t know how profitable the estate is although I am not aware of any of their financial arrangements. I would add that, after Elliott’s death, the estate has supported numerous charities for several years, and had to pay lawyers due to the lawsuit perpetuated by Jennifer Chiba for 3 years.
One thing is certain, the abuse allegations are not helping the investigation, this goes against the credibility of the family and any serious investigation would expose a skeleton they all want to keep in the closet.
Enty also alludes at the ‘conspiracy theories’ which ‘abounded about possible foul play. Focusing on someone close to The Late Musician. These theories are both convincing and enduring’ … I am not paranoid but, I feel like the allegation that ‘this theory is perpetuated and supported online still after all these years by certain family members’ is directly addressed to my research… who else has been publicly raising suspicions about what happened for years? However, I am not a family member, and if I have sporadically communicated with some of them, I cannot say they support me in any way. You don’t see them approving publicly what I am doing, or even commenting, they always want to stay anonymous, so I have always had to say ‘a family member told me’…
In the end I don’t think they keep these conspiracies alive because it directs attention away from information that might make them look culpable, if they support what I do, and I am only talking about Gary Smith’s side, it is because the story, which was perpetuated by Jennifer Chiba through diverse media, is filled with discrepancies, contradictions, and distortions.
I would end with this important point the ‘conspiracy theories are both convincing and enduring’. Even though I would not call what I am doing a conspiracy theory – detective J. King himself told me he ‘was NOT considering me a conspiracy theorist’ – Enty calls the theories convincing, and this is what counts. The fact that Elliott was abused doesn’t exclude the fact he may have been murdered. It just gives a good argument to Chiba’s defenders and it is another obstacle toward the truth.