Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Influential Singer-Songwriter Daniel Johnston Passes Away at 58

A mural in downtown Austin Texas painted by Daniel Johnston A mural in downtown Austin Texas painted by Daniel Johnston. Harry Cabluck AP
Lora Ball | 12 September, 2019, 11:04

"He's just an inspiration". He had an extensive discography and released his music primarily on homemade cassette tapes that he passed out to people, a method which landed him an appearance on MTV series The Cutting Edge in 1985.

According to a statement posted on Facebook, Johnston died of natural causes at his Houston-area home.

American cult singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston has died, aged 58.

In an email to Spin, the artist's brother, Dick Johnston, said that the news was "something of a surprise" after his health had seemingly improved of late. After this episode, Johnston was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Johnston's last album, 2012's "Space Ducks", featured a slew of guest musicians including Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Eleanor Friedberger, Deer Tick, Fruit Bats, and Lavender Diamond. Johnston told the Chronicle in 2018 that he had been working on a new album with Brian Beattie, as yet unreleased.

"His issues with mental health are well documented but what stands out to me are his triumphs", Gimbel said.

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Johnston's struggles with manic depression formed the heart of the Oscar-nominated 2005 documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston".

Interest in Johnston was revived by the documentary, which won the Director's Award at Sundance in 2005, and the exposure allowed Johnston to tour extensively. He was already a draw in the Austin scene when he travelled to NY in 1988 to record an album called 1990 with producer Mark Kramer alongside Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley. Named to commemorate Johnston's 1983 album and famous frog mural, which lives at the site of a former record store in the Texas capitol's downtown district, the event is also meant to encourage mental health support.

"There were very few risky rock and roll shows left in the world where you really don't know what to expect", Gimbel said of Johnston's notoriously unpredictable stage presence.

RIP, Daniel. You will be missed.

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