Daniel Dale Johnston (born 1961) is an American musician and artist. He has a strong cult following and is today the most well known "outsider musician"
. Johnston is usually known for his lo-fi recordings from the 1980s, his most popular album being Hi, How Are You?
, released in 1983. He received a Colbert Bump
when Kurt Cobain
wore a Johnston T-shirt and named Johnston's Yip/Jump Music
one of his favorite albums. Other famous Johnston fans
are Matt Groening
, Johnny Depp
, Tom Waits
, David Bowie
, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam
), Yo La Tengo
and Sonic Youth
. In fact, many of those even recorded a tribute album for him. Johnston is also notable enough to have a documentary devoted to him: "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" (2005).
Along with writing music, he is also an artist/cartoonist, who designs his own album covers. In a sad literal case of the Mad Artist
trope, Johnston has been diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and has been in and out of mental institutions. He suffered many breakdowns
. His most memorable one was a literal breakdown in 1990 where he caused his fathers plane to crash. Fortunately, both survived the crash only mildly injured. His 1983 album Hi, How Are You
also remained unfinished due to a mental breakdown.
It's tempting to see Daniel as The Woobie
for all the hardships he endured. He is also an identifiable loser geek
who shares a love for comic books, music and old horror movies, pioneered home-recorded music and spent most of his life in his parents' house, cartooning and recording music, while suffering from unrequited love, loneliness and mental problems. He is a prototype of the Struggling Artist
, though on the other hand he did manage to make a career and gain some notability and respect in the Alternative Rock
scene. Compared to other Outsider Music
he is actually quite a capable musician on piano, guitar and mouth harmonica.
Albums with their own page:
Let me tell you about an artist...