Daniel Johnston was an American singer-songwriter and visual artist regarded as a significant figure in outsider, lo-fi, and alternative music scenes. Similarly, he gathered a local following in the 1980s by passing out tapes of his music while working at a McDonald’s in Austin, Texas. Since 2005, Johnston was the subject of the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
Johnston was born in Sacramento, California, and grew up in New Cumberland, West Virginia. He was the youngest of five children of William Dale “Bill” Johnston (1922–2017) and Mabel Ruth Voyles Johnston (1923–2010). He began recording music in the late 1970s on a $59 Sanyo monaural boombox, singing and playing the piano as well as the chord organ.
When Johnston moved to Austin, Texas, he began to attract the attention of the local press and gained a following augmented in numbers by his habit of handing out tapes to people he met.
Similarly, in 1988, Johnston visited New York City and recorded 1990 with producer Kramer at his Noise New York studio. This was Johnston’s first experience in a professional recording environment after a decade of releasing home-made cassette recordings. His mental health further deteriorated during the making of 1990. Since 1989, Johnston released the album It’s Spooky in collaboration with Half Japanese singer Jad Fair.
Since 2004, he released The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered, a two-disc compilation. The first disc featured covers of his songs by artists including Tom Waits, Beck, TV on the Radio, Jad Fair, Eels, Bright Eyes. Similarly, Calvin Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips and Starlight Mints. Likewise, the second disc featured Johnston’s original recordings of the songs. Since 2005, Texas-based theatre company Infernal Bridegroom Productions received a Multi-Arts Production/MAP Fund grant. And that was to work with Johnston to create a rock opera based on his music, titled Speeding Motorcycle.
Likewise, on March 13, 2012, Johnston released his first comic book, Space Ducks. An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness at SXSW, published by BOOM! Studios. Similarly, the comic book ties-in with the Space Ducks album and an iOS app. Johnston has collaborated with skateboarding and clothing company Supreme on numerous collections (consisting of clothing and various accessories) showcasing his artwork.
Johnston died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Waller, Texas on September 10, 2019.
- Full Name: Daniel Dale Johnston
- Date of Birth: January 22, 1961
- Birth Place: Sacramento, California, U.S.
- Movies: The Devil and Daniel Johnston, etc.
- Parents: Mabel Johnston, Bill Johnston
- Origin: West VirginiaTexas, U.S.
- Date of Death: September 10, 2019
- Aged: 58
- Death Place: Waller, Texas, U.S.
- Genres: Outsider, lo-fi, avant-pop
- Occupation(s): Musician, singer-songwriter, visual artist
- Instruments: Vocals, piano, chord organ, guitar, drums
- Years active: since 1978–2018
- Labels: Yip Eye Music
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