Very sad news today, folks: according to the Austin Chronicle, legendary Austin musician Daniel Johnston - a one-of-a-kind singer/songwriter whose work has been covered by Tom Waits, Yo La Tengo, The Flaming Lips, and countless other musicians - passed away today at the age of 58.
Johnston's career was an unusual one, which is fitting given how singular his work was. After moving to Austin, TX in the early '80s, Johnston began building buzz on the local music scene (and amongst those covering it) before recording several new albums, including classics like Yip/Jump Music and Hi How Are You (Kurt Cobain was frequently photographed wearing one of Johnston's Hi How Are You t-shirts, featuring Johnston's own artwork). Towards the tail end of the '80s/early '90s, Johnston's mental health began to deteriorate, eventually landing him in a mental hospital. Johnston continued dealing with those mental health issues for the rest of his life, but also continued releasing music - sometimes on major record labels, sometimes not. He was a no-shit troubled genius, and his influence on a number of artists who went on to become household names really cannot be overstated.
In 2005, Jeff Feuerzeig released the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which you can watch right now on Amazon Prime. It's a stunningly moving piece of work, and captures both Johnston's musical genius and the demons that plagued him in sometimes startling detail.
Here's a trailer, if you're interested:
RIP, Daniel. You will be missed.