RIP Daniel Johnston — Acclaimed Indie Singer-Songwriter Dead At 58

Rest in peace, Daniel Johnston?

How Did Daniel Johnston Die? New Details On Death Of The Acclaimed Indie Singer-Songwriter At 58 Getty Images

While he was alive, he was hardly known or recognized by the mainstream. Now, in his death, his immeasurable contributions to the world of music are finally being recognized. But how did Daniel Johnston die?

Let's look at what we know about this musician, who is clearly gone too soon. 


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1. Friends described him as brilliant but awkward, which made him endearing. 

The Guardian spoke extensively to a journalist who followed Daniel Johnston's career, and befriended him along the way. The outlet reports that the journalist said that while Johnston was a brilliant musician, he was socially awkward. But it's this trait, he said, that made him endearing ... and enduring. 

2. Daniel Johnston is best known for his artwork. 

According to Tiny Mixtapes, Daniel Johnston wasn't just a musician. He was also a prolific artist! The outlet reports that in Austin, Texas, he created a mural called the "Hi, How Are You" frog mural on the Drag. 


3. He was a native of California. 

"Born in California in 1961 and raised in West Virginia, Johnston became known as a songwriter after moving to Austin, Texas. His reputation in the city grew after he started handing out cassette tapes of his no-frills home recordings to people in the street," reported the BBC.

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4. Daniel Johnston's family said he suffered from mental illness.

"Daniel was a singer, songwriter, an artist, and a friend to all. Although he struggled with mental health issues for much of his adult life, Daniel triumphed over his illness through his prolific output of art and songs. He inspired countless fans, artists, and songwriters with his message that no matter how dark the day, ‘the sun shines down on me’ and ‘true love will find you in the end," his family said, in a statement to Rolling Stone

5. He had a cult following. 

According to CNN, Daniel Johnston first appeared on the 1985 MTV show, The Cutting Edge, which is the most "mainstream" he'd become. Over a period of time, he'd developed a cult following from the likes of musicians like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Tom Waits. 

6. Daniel Johnston died of a heart attack.

Daniel Johnston died of a heart attack at the age of 58. 


Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.