Daniel Johnston, legendary singer revered by Kurt Cobain and Tom Waits, dies from heart attack aged 58
Johnston was revered by artists including Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo among others who covered lo-fi music. The singer released 17 albums and his signature style was an exploration of great angst through whimsy music
Singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston who is the well-known subject of the documentary 'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' died Tuesday night after suffering from a heart attack confirmed the singer's manager Jeff Tartakov. The singer-songwriter became well-known among fans for his interesting lyrics and his battles with mental illness.
This, in fact, became one of the main reasons why fans were fascinated with him. His death was confirmed by a local newspaper in his hometown, Austin, Texas. According to a report in Variety, Johnston was revered by artists including Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo among others who covered lo-fi music.
The singer released 17 albums and his signature style was an exploration of great angst through whimsy music. He was addressed by media and fans alike as an eccentric genius at times and a loner and this added further mystery to his character. It was Tom Waits, Jad Fair and Yo La Tengo who had recorded his tunes, initially on homemade tapes, which made Johnston famous.
Cobain's interest in Johnston's music came to light when he wore a t-shirt that featured artwork about Johnston, and this further added to the singer's legend. However, earlier publicity Johnston received was for his struggle with mental illness.
When Johnston began to produce music under his own label Eternal Yip Eye Music, in the late 80s and early 90s, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In fact, he had an episode mid-flight in 1990 in a plane piloted by his father and he removed the keys from ignition which forced his father to crash land the plane on the way to a music festival. After this, he was committed to a hospital involuntarily.
Despite all of this, Johnston's genius in music continued long enough to bring support from a label as big as Atlantic Records and he released his album 'Fun' in 1994. He reportedly had a chance to record with Elektra as well, however, decided to not go forth with the label because Metallica, who would have become his label mates were considered to be devil worshippers by Johnston.
The documentary 'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' was made by director Jeff Feuerzieg in 2005 and it captured Johnston's life from when he worked and released the albums 'The Electric Ghosts', 'Is and Always Was' and 'Space Ducks'.