Sunday 22 September 2019

Cult singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston dies at 58

Beck, Judd Apatow and Elijah Wood have led the tributes.

Tributes have been paid to influential singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston who has died at the age of 58 (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Tributes have been paid to influential singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston who has died at the age of 58 (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Tributes have been paid to influential singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston who has died at the age of 58.

The revered musician, a cult figure among fans of the US indie rock scene, died from “natural causes”, his family said.

“The Johnston family is deeply saddened to announce the death of their brother, Daniel Johnston,” his family said in a statement. “He passed away from natural causes this morning at his home outside of Houston, Texas.

ipanews_81e623a6-d378-47bc-8b15-a7c281c879d1_embedded245201671
A candle burns next to a sign bearing the name of a song by musician and artist Daniel Johnston at a memorial at a mural he painted (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

“Daniel was a singer, songwriter, an artist, and a friend to all. Although he struggled with mental health issues for much of his adult life, Daniel triumphed over his illness through his prolific output of art and songs.

“He inspired countless fans, artists, and songwriters with his message that no matter how dark the day, ‘the sun shines down on me’ and ‘true love will find you in the end.’”

Johnston was born in Sacramento, California and began recording music in the late 1970s.

His fans included Nirvana singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and singer Tom Waits.

Following news of Johnston’s death, numerous cultural figures paid tribute.

Lord Of The Rings actor Elijah Wood wrote: “Daniel Johnston; what a gentle, beautiful treasure. So sad to hear you’ve left us.”

American singer-songwriter Beck wrote: “RIP.”

Documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson described him as a “true, great talent”.

And filmmaker Judd Apatow said he was “so sad to hear of the death of the great Daniel Johnston”.

Johnston first found fame after moving to Austin, Texas, in the 1980s where he began handing out mixtapes in the street.

After Cobain was spotted wearing a T-shirt featuring Johnston’s Hi, How Are You Album, his popularity increased and in 1994 he signed with a major record label.

But mainstream success never followed. Johnston’s most recent studio album was 2012’s Space Ducks.

In 2005, he was the subject of the documentary The Devil And Daniel Johnston,  which won the documentary directing award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top