R.I.P. Daniel Johnston | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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R.I.P. Daniel Johnston

58-Year-Old Singer/Songwriter Dies of a Heart Attack

Sep 11, 2019 Photography by Jackie Young Daniel Johnston
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Acclaimed singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston has died. The 58-year-old had a heart attack. His former manager Jeff Tartakov has confirmed the information to The Austin Chronicle.

Johnston was born in 1961 in Sacramento, CA, but grew up in New Cumberland, West Virginia. It was when attending Kent State University’s arts program that he recorded his first album, 1981’s Songs of Pain. After moving to Austin he started to garner more attention, including being featured in a 1985 episode of the MTV program The Cutting Edge. His earlier works were all home-recorded affairs, but for 1990 (released in 1990) he recorded in a professional studio with famed producer Kramer and a little help from Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley on “Spirit World Rising.” Around the same time he diagnosed with schizophrenia and involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Despite this, he was the focus of a label bidding war after Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt featuring the artwork for Johnson’s 1983 album Hi, How Are You. He signed to Atlantic who dropped him after one album, 1994’s Fun, when it was a commercial failure. Johnston was further highlighted by the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, directed by Jeff Feuerzieg. Johnston’s last album was 2012’s Space Ducks: Soundtrack.

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