Influential Singer-Songwriter Daniel Johnston Passes Away at 58

Lawrence Kim
September 12, 2019

The singer, songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston, performing in Austin in 2005.

Daniel Johnston, the revered cult singer-songwriter who made an indelible mark on indie music with often harrowingly lovely songs, has died after suffering a heart attack, the Austin Chronicle reports. Johnston died this week.

According to The Austin Chronicle, Johnston, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had been in poor health lately.

Watch Johnston perform his beloved 1985 Retired Boxer track "True Love Will Find You In The End" at KCRW in 2017 below.

Dick Johnston also told NPR on Wednesday that the family has been working with director Jason Nodler to create a biographical film of Daniel Johnston's life, based on the stage work Speeding Motorcycle, which Nodler directed, based on Johnston's songs.

The late singer served as inspiration for many musical cultural icons, including Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth and the Flaming Lips. The project is named for one of Johnston's albums. After moving to Austin, TX in the early '80s, Johnston began building buzz on the local music scene (and amongst those covering it) before recording several new albums, including classics like Yip/Jump Music and Hi How Are You (Kurt Cobain was frequently photographed wearing one of Johnston's Hi How Are You t-shirts, featuring Johnston's own artwork).

In 2005, he was the subject of a documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, that traced his artmaking and his significant struggles; the film won the documentary directing award at Sundance that year. "At different points of the same show, there would be heart rendering beauty - these incredible lyrics that would move people to tears - and then there could be comical moments and then something could happen and it would just be a disaster, but I think that's what drew people to him".

RIP, Daniel. You will be missed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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