It’s Day 171 and I had a lot of fun doing today’s artist. I couldn’t wait to pay tribute to Daniel Johnston. I’m a fan of his artwork and music. In the past, every time I’d start a new job I’d listen to “First Day At Work” in the morning. Join me in honoring him today!
Daniel Dale Johnston (born January 22, 1961) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and artist. Johnston was the subject of the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston. He currently lives in Waller, Texas.
Johnston was born in Sacramento, California, and grew up in the northern panhandle of West
Virginia between Ohio and Pennsylvania near Chester and New Cumberland, West Virginia. He began recording music in the late 1970s on a $59 Sanyomonaural Boombox, singing and playing piano and chord organ. Following graduation from Oak Glen High School, Johnston spent a few weeks at Abilene Christian University in West Texas, but soon dropped out. Later he attended the East Liverpool branch of Kent State University.
Johnston’s musical work gained some notoriety when he moved to Austin, Texas. Johnston began to attract the attention of the local press and gained a following augmented in numbers by his habit of handing out tapes to people he met. Live performances were well-attended and hotly anticipated.
His local standing led to him being featured in a 1985 episode of the MTV program The Cutting Edge featuring performers from Austin’s “New Sincerity” music scene. Subsequently he performed at the 1985 Woodshock music festival in Austin, where he was featured in a short documentary of the festival, Woodshock.
In 1988, Johnston visited New York City and recorded 1990 with producer Kramer at his Noise
New York studio. It was released in 1990 on Kramer’s Shimmy-Disc label. This was Johnston’s first experience in a professional recording environment after a decade of releasing home-made cassette recordings. His mental health further deteriorated during the making of 1990. In 1989 Johnston released the album It’s Spooky in collaboration with Half Japanese singer Jad Fair.
In 1990, Johnston played at a music festival in Austin, Texas. On the way back to West Virginia on a small, private two-seater plane piloted by his father Bill, Johnston had amanic psychotic episode believing he was Casper the Friendly Ghost and removed the key from the plane’s ignition and threw it out of the plane. His father, a former Air Force pilot, managed to successfully crash-land the plane, even though “there was nothing down there but trees”. Although the plane was destroyed, Johnston and his father emerged with only minor injuries. As a result of this episode, Johnston was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.
Interest in Johnston increased when Kurt Cobain was frequently photographed wearing a t-shirt featuring the cover image of Johnston’s album Hi, How Are You which music journalist Everett True gave him. Kurt Cobain listed Yip/Jump Music as one of his favorite albums in his journal in 1993. In spite of Johnston being resident in a mental hospital at the time, a bidding war to sign him ensued. He refused to sign a multi-album deal with Elektra Records because Metallica was on the label’s roster and he was convinced that they were of Satan and would hurt him. He also dropped his manager after having a psychotic episode at a Butthole Surfers concert. His manager, Kramer, called Johnston’s parents after the episode and was in turn fired because he thought: “they’ll put me in a looneybin”. Ultimately he signed with Atlantic Records in February 1994 and that September released Fun, produced by Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers. It was a commercial failure. In June 1996, Atlantic dropped Daniel from the label.
Johnston contributed two songs to the soundtrack for Larry Clark’s controversial 1995 film Kids,
produced by Folk Implosion and Sebadoh’s frontman, Lou Barlow. Johnston later covered Schoolhouse Rock!’s “Unpack Your Adjectives” for a compilation of the popular education songs called Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks in 1996.
In 2004, he released The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered, a two-disc compilation. The first disc featured many artists, such as Tom Waits, Beck, TV on the Radio, Jad Fair, Eels, Bright Eyes, Calvin Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips covering songs written by Johnston. The second disc featured Johnston’s original recordings of the songs.
In 2005, Texas-based theater company Infernal Bridegroom Productions received a Multi-Arts Production/MAP Fund grant to work with Johnston to create a rock operabased on his music, titled Speeding Motorcycle.
A 2005, Dutch documentary about Johnston for the TV series R.A.M. was followed in 2006 by The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Jeff Feuerzeig’s documentary, four years in the making, collated some of the vast amount of recorded material Johnston (and in some case, others) had produced over the years to portray his life and music. The film won high praise, receiving the Director’s Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The film also inspired more interest in Johnston’s work, and increased his pull as a touring artist.
In 2006, Johnston’s own Eternal Yip Eye Music label released his first greatest hits compilation, Welcome to My World. He also appeared as
musical guest on The Henry Rollins Show on which he performed “Mask” and “Care Less” (the latter was exclusive to the internet).
Through the next few years Johnston toured extensively across the world, and continued to attract press attention. In 2008, Dick Johnston, Daniel’s brother and manager, revealed that “a movie deal based on the artist’s life and music had been finalized with a tentative 2011 release.” He also said that a deal had been struck with the Conversecompany for a “signature series” Daniel Johnston shoe. Later, it was revealed by Dick Johnston that Converse had dropped the plan. In late 2008, Adjustable Productions released Johnston’s first concert DVD, The Angel and Daniel Johnston – Live at the Union Chapel, featuring a 2007 appearance in Islington, London.
On January 31, 2009, Daniel Johnston joined the band The Swell Season on a broadcast of Austin City Limits (previously recorded on September 28, 2008) to perform the song “Life in Vain”.
His latest album, Is and Always Was, was released on October 6, 2009 on his Eternal Yip Eye Music record label. In 2009, it was announced that Matt Groening had chosen Johnston to perform at the edition of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival that he curated in May 2010 in Minehead, England. Later that year, he was invited by rock band Cage the Elephant to appear at Starry Nights Fest, an upstart music festival in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Johnston performed a brief solo set before being joined on stage by Cage, who backed performances of several songs, including “Speeding Motorcycle” and “True Love Will Find You in the End”.
In August 2012, male cosmetics company Axe used Daniel’s song “True Love Will Find You In The End” in a television advertisement marketing a men’s hair care product.
Johnston has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Biography is from wikipedia.
My painting for today was just created on the fly. I didn’t want to overanalyze what I was going to draw so I just doodled something that was inspired by Daniel Johnston. Now I want to go listen to some Daniel Johnston songs! I hope you enjoy my piece for today and I’ll see you tomorrow on Day 172. Best, Linda