Daniel Johnston 1961 – 2019

By Andy Kahn Sep 11, 2019 1:52 pm PDT

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston has died at the age of 58. According to The Austin Chronicle, former manager Jeff Tartakov confirmed Johnston died on Tuesday evening following a heart attack.

Born January 22, 1961, in Sacramento, California, Johnston was raised in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Johnston moved to Austin, Texas in the mid-1980s where he started to gain notoriety for the lo-fi cassette tapes of his original songs that he’d begun creating and sharing several years prior. Among those were 1981’s Songs of Pain and 1983’s More Songs Of Pain and Hi, How Are You. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain helped increase awareness of Johnston in the early-1990s when he wore a t-shirt featuring the Hi, How Are You cover art.

Many musicians have covered Johnston’s songs like “Devil Town,” “Walking The Cow,” “True Love Will Find You In The End” and “Speeding Motorcycle” among several others. A tribute album, The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered came out in 2004 featuring Johnston’s songs covered by Tom Waits, Beck, TV on the Radio, Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips and others.

Throughout his life, Johnston dealt with mental health issues which were chronicled in the 2005 documentary film about him, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. In 2017, Johnston announced his retirement from touring. His final five show tour took place later that year and featured The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jeff Tweedy, Built To Spill, The Districts and Modern Baseball serving as backing bands at various stops.

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