Jennifer Chiba is half Japanese, she was born in Tokyo and raised in Texas, but she is now living in Los Angeles. In 2003, she was in the band Happy Ending, ‘a fresh exciting four piece alternative punk rock explosion from L.A’. According to Org Records, ‘it was all buzzing and looking exciting and everyone was talking about their packed LA shows. We were all ready to put out the single here on ORG. Jenn’s boyfriend Elliott Smith had been working on the recordings and, we were talking about following up the debut with an Elliott/Happy Ending split seven incher and… Well we all sadly know what happened next with Elliott… The recordings have been put to one side, the band are no more, it just best left. We’ll leave it there (and please don’t call us and ask us for quotes about Jenn and Elliott).’
She also was Rivers Cuomo’s on-again off-again girlfriend between approximately 1992 and 1995, although W. T. Schultz is mentioning a ‘10-year relationship’ in ‘Torment Saint’ (page 261). Several songs written by Cuomo (‘I’ll Think About You’, ‘El Scorcho’ and other songs of the ‘Pinkerton’ album) were presumably written about her. Additionally, the character of Maria in Weezer’s unfinished and unreleased space opera ‘Songs From the Black Hole’ was inspired by Chiba and the relationship between Maria and Jonas was based on Chiba and Cuomo’s relationship.
After Elliott’s death, Cuomo wrote ‘The Other Way’ about wanting to console Chiba. ‘I wrote that song for Jennifer Chiba after Elliott died, and I wanted to console her, but I was confused and skeptical about my own motives for wanting to do so, so I wrote that song about that,’ declared Cuomo in an interview.
Chiba was Elliott Smith’s girlfriend when he died in 2003. On October 21st 2003, the couple were arguing, she said she locked herself in the bathroom for 5-10 minutes, heard a scream, opened the bathroom door and found Elliott standing with his back to her. When he turned around, she saw the kitchen knife in his chest. She told police that she pulled the knife out of his chest and saw “two cuts” before he walked away and collapsed. She called 911 at 12:18 p.m. and performed CPR and first aid with a dispatcher’s help until paramedics arrived. Elliott died at County-USC Medical Center 78 minutes later. When police officers questioned her at the kitchen table, she pointed out a Post-it note (the alleged suicide note).
Chiba sued Marta Greenwald, the administrator of Smith’s estate, in 2004 ‘for breach of oral contract, quantum meruit, declaratory relief and constructive trust’. She alleged that she had entered into an oral agreement with Elliott in August of 2002 to ‘live together, cohabitate and combine their efforts and earnings’ , ‘share equally any and all property accumulated as a result of their efforts whether individual or combined,’ and ‘hold themselves out to the public as husband and wife.’
Her complaint claimed that they began a romantic relationship during the summer of 1999, and that Elliott promised to provide for her ‘financial needs and support for the rest of her life’ in exchange for her domestic services as his ‘homemaker, housekeeper, cook, secretary, bookkeeper and financial counselor’, ‘forgo[ing] any independent career opportunities.’ She also alleged that she had agreed to be Smith’s ‘manager and agent for the purposes of arranging [his] booking and scheduling [his] appearances for musical performances’ and to carry out ‘the preparation and production of [his] album” in exchange for ‘15% of the proceeds earned and received.’
Chiba claimed that Greenwald breached the agreement by refusing to pay her for her services, and sought over $1 million for the services and for proceeds from Smith’s compositions, performances and albums.
Chiba amended her complaint twice, on November 1st 2004 and April 28th 2005. However, a split California appellate court ruled that Chiba had acted as an unlicensed agent, so was therefore not entitled to any payments from the estate.
Chiba holds an MA in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She got her license in 1995. According to the Spin article, she has also worked as an art therapist at Five Acres, a school for abused and damaged children. She claims to have 15 years of experience working as an art therapist for a number of non-profit, community mental health organizations. She currently works at Maryvale, a residential treatment program for girls in Rosemead, CA, and runs a private therapy practice.
She also is in a band called Hello Menno, which has played a few gigs in LA. She is now married with Alex Whomsley.
Her license history: