- Facebook / Daniel Johnston
The singer-songwriter and visual artist suffered a heart attack Tuesday night and did not survive. He had been in declining health, according to news reports.
One of Austin’s most influential artistic exports, Johnston painted the famous “Hi How Are You” frog mural on the Drag and wrote and recorded 17 albums of original music. He got his start in the 1980s when, while working at a McDonald's, he began selling home-recorded tapes of his simplistically performed and emotionally naked songs.
Since then, his music has been covered by the likes of Yo La Tengo and Tom Waits. When Kurt Cobain was photographed rocking a shirt featuring Johnton’s frog logo, the outsider artist was quickly, if briefly, thrust into the pop culture mainstream.
Friends and celebrities took to social media Wednesday to express sorrow about his death.
Those early DJ tunes meant a lot to so many of us. “Walking the Cow” was also a favorite of mine, along with “Keep Punching Joe,” whose lyrics reference “Walking the Cow.” Rest well Daniel Johnston, you sure earned it. https://t.co/KVGvW210yB— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) September 11, 2019
Daniel Johnston; what a gentle, beautiful treasure. So sad to hear you’ve left us.— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) September 11, 2019