Influential Singer-Songwriter Daniel Johnston Passes Away at 58

Daniel Johnston was a cult figure among fans of the US indie rock scene

Daniel Johnston was a cult figure among fans of the US indie rock scene

Eccentric US indie rock singer Daniel Johnston has died at 58. According to the article, Johnston's health had declined over the last few years and required multiple hospitalizations. That album kicked off a prolific run of releases from Johnston, who is regarded as a pioneer of lo-fi folk and counts Kurt Cobain, the Flaming Lips and Tom Waits among his acolytes.

The 2005 documentary film "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" helped bring the artist's work to a larger audience while also discussing his bipolar disorder and its manifestation through demonic self-obsession.

Despite battling chronic mental illness, Johnston had an influential career as a singer-songwriter.

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Called everything from an eccentric genius to a childlike loner, Johnston made his bones and his reputation for oblique, yet touching lyrics, yelping vocals and oddly contagious melodies (for instance: "Speeding Motorcycle") with a handful of homemade cassettes (such as "More Songs of Pain", "Yip/Jump Music", and "Hi, How Are You") and almost 20 albums. Johnston's Austin mural of a frog, the same minimalist artwork that appears on his 1983 album Hi, How Are You, is a landmark in the city.

After ultimately signing with Atlantic Records, Johnston was dropped when his music fared poorly commercially. He soon became a fixture of Austin's music and visual arts scenes, beginning with the release of his debut album Songs Of Pain in 1981.

His final tour took place in 2017, where he was supported by the likes of Jeff Tweedy & Friends, Built To Spill, the Preservation All-Stars, Ben Lee, the Districts and Modern Baseball. In the previous year, his mental health also worsened. Johnston told the Chronicle in 2018 that he had been working on a new album with Brian Beattie, as yet unreleased.

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