Friday 20 October 2017

Peaches Geldof 'obsessed' with late US musician's tales of drug addiction before tragic death

Peaches Geldof
Peaches Geldof
Peaches with her husband Thomas Cohen and their baby son Astala.
The late Elliot Smith

Ryan Hooper

Peaches Geldof had become increasingly obsessed with late US musician Elliott Smith in the days before she died, reports have suggested.

Revered in life as well as death, American musician Smith won many admirers for his unique guitar style and delicate voice.

The Nebraska-born multi-instrumentalist's lyrics included personal tales of the drug addiction that would ravage his final days.

Peaches wrote online just weeks before her death that Smith was her kindred spirit and she posted a list of her top 25 songs, all of which were by Smith.

Born Steven Paul "Elliott" Smith in 1969, the shy, tattooed musician initially performed with rock band Heatmiser in the early 1990s.

But his success came as a solo artist and his rise to prominence was assured when he scored much of the soundtrack to the 1997 Matt Damon film Good Will Hunting, with Miss Misery earning an Oscar nomination - though the gong that year went to My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.

A succession of critically acclaimed LPs followed for Smith, including XO and Figure 8, though his fame coincided with an increased reliance on drugs and alcohol.

Stints in rehab failed to rid Smith of his personal demons, yet he continued to perform and record new music heavily influenced by the likes of The Beatles, Nick Drake and Jackson Browne.

The waif-like Smith died, from two stab wounds to the chest, in October 2003 at the age of 34.

Reports at the time suggested the injuries were self-inflicted though some fans believe he was killed.

Two posthumous releases followed - From A Basement On The Hill, the year after his death, and New Moon, a collection of unreleased tracks from Smith's back catalogue in 2007.

Today his work is credited with influencing artists including Elbow, Badly Drawn Boy and Ben Folds.

Meanwhile, a criminal inquiry is under way into the death of Peaches Geldof after it emerged that heroin was likely to have played a part in it.

Kent Police said there was an "ongoing investigation into the supply of drugs" in connection with the 25-year-old's death.

She was found by her husband Thomas Cohen with one leg hanging down to the floor and the other tucked underneath her in a spare bedroom in Wrotham, Kent, on April 7.

At the opening of her inquest in Gravesend yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham, of Kent Police, said recent heroin use "was likely to have played a role" in her death.

A police spokesman said: "Kent Police can confirm an ongoing investigation into the supply of drugs in connection with the death of Peaches Geldof. There have been no arrests at this stage."

Ms Geldof's death marks a parallel to the death of her mother, TV presenter and writer Paula Yates, who died from an accidental heroin overdose at her London home aged 41 in 2000.

At the inquest, Mr Fotheringham described the unsuccessful efforts musician Mr Cohen made to contact his wife before he found her body.

Four days before she was discovered, Mr Cohen went with the couple's two sons, Astala, 23 months, and 11-month-old Phaedra, to his parents' south-east London home.

Mr Fotheringham said this was a normal arrangement so that he and TV presenter and columnist Ms Geldof could concentrate on their work.

During their time apart, Ms Geldof remained at home in Wrotham and in contact with friends and family, appearing to be her normal self.

Mr Fotheringham said: "On Thursday April 3, 2014, Thomas Cohen went with his two sons to stay for the weekend at his parents' house in south-east London.

"This is a normal occurrence which enables Peaches and Thomas to complete work in their respective careers."

He added: "It is believed that Peaches spent Saturday afternoon (April 5), into the evening, and Sunday morning at her home address alone.

"Throughout this period she maintained telephone contact with family and friends, including contact with Thomas's mother to arrange a family activity, but this was cancelled.

"Peaches maintained contact with family and friends throughout Sunday and at 5pm Thomas's father Keith Cohen took the youngest child, Phaedra, back to Wrotham and spent half an hour with Peaches before leaving the child with her."

Mr Fotheringham said the last contact with Ms Geldof is believed to have been at 7.45pm on the Sunday when she had a telephone conversation with a friend.

He went on: "All of the friends and family who had contact with Peaches during this period described how she seemed her normal self and was making plans for the future, including a family outing for her sons for the following weekend.

"There was no cause for concern."

Mr Cohen tried to contact his wife the following morning without success, Mr Fotheringham added.

He then travelled to the family home in Kent with his mother, Sue, and Astala, arriving at around 1.30pm.

"Thomas entered the property and located Peaches in the spare bedroom," Mr Fotheringham said. It was apparent that she was dead.

"She was located on the edge of the bed with one leg hanging down to the floor and the other leg tucked underneath her. She was slumped across the bed," Mr Fotheringham said.

Mr Cohen called out to his mother and Phaedra was found in the property, and the emergency services were called.

Police and paramedics arrived and confirmed she was dead. Kent Police started an investigation but the death was "unexplained with no third party" involvement.

A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Peter Jerreat at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford was inconclusive.

Further tests confirmed the recent taking of heroin, Mr Fotheringham said. He said: "Recent use of heroin and the levels identified were likely to have played a role in her death."

Mr Hatch adjourned the inquest for a full hearing to take place on July 23.

None of Ms Geldof's family, including her father Bob, were at the hearing, which lasted around 10 minutes.

At her funeral service in Davington, near Faversham, Ms Geldof's body was carried into church in a poignantly-decorated coffin which included a picture of her young family.

Mr Geldof is thought to have led tributes in front of a host of well-known personalities, including the Duchess of York, supermodel Kate Moss and former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman.

The church, St Mary Magdalene and St Lawrence, was where Ms Geldof married musician Mr Cohen in 2012.

It was also where her mother married Mr Geldof in 1986 and where her funeral service was held.

Former Boomtown Rats singer Mr Geldof has previously paid tribute to his daughter alongside his partner, Jeanne Marine, and Ms Geldof's sisters, Fifi Trixibelle, Pixie and Tiger, saying she was the "wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us".

Meanwhile, a British newspaper has reported that the columnist and model made several secret visits to a rehab facility close to her €1.2m home in Wrotham, Kent.

The Sun newspaper claimed that Peaches had made a number of trips to the centre to collect prescriptions for heroin substitute methadone.

Addicts use methadone in a bid to stop them using heroin.

The publication reported that her husband Thomas Cohen was unaware of his wife’s visits to the centre.

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