Facts about Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston Biography
Singer-songwriter and would-be cartoonist Daniel Johnston was a local music act in Austin, Texas when Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain made him nationally famous in 1992 by wearing Johnston’s t-shirt at the MTV Music Awards.
Johnston grew up in West Virginia but moved to Texas in 1983. There he established himself with self-released cassettes of his own songs. Peculiar and low fidelity, his songs resonated as honest expressions of his battles with mental illness and his experiences with unrequited love.
He became part of Austin’s music scene, and his idiosyncratic performances and sincere-but-skewed pop tunes caught the attention of writers and performers in the music industry. Johnston was signed to a major label but never became part of the mainstream.
He continued to perform and record sporadically, in between episodes brought on by his condition, including one in which he nearly caused a plane crash.
Johnston’s work as a cartoonist and visual artist also got national attention.
His best known recording is Hi, How Are You?, which includes the songs “Walking the Cow” and “Keep Punching Joe.”
Johnston was the subject of a 2005 documentary by Jeff Feuerzeig, The Devil and Daniel Johnston.