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Daniel Johnston Dies Aged 58

Thursday, 12 September 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: Hi, How Are You Project Facebook

Daniel Johnston has died aged 58.

In a statement the cult icon's family posted on September 11, it was confirmed "he passed away from natural causes this morning at his home outside of Houston, Texas." He is said to have died of a heart attack.

Johnston, born in 1961 in Sacramento, California, was a singer-songwriter and visual artist who was renowned in the American underground music scene, with high-profile fans including Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth and Tom Waits, to name a few.

Throughout his life he battled with mental health issues and channeled his struggles into his music, releasing many of his numerous albums on cassette. The artwork for his 1983 record 'Hi, How Are You' was made into a mural in Austin, Texas in the early '90s that has since been declared a cultural landmark. The image's cult status soared when Cobain wore a t-shirt emblazoned with it. 

In 2018, the Hi, How Are You Project was founded. It's described as, "a non-profit organization inspiring new conversations around mental health issues by funding and creating thoughtful media content, projects and events." The foundation was created with the support of Johnston and his family. 

Since the news of the singer-songwriter's passing there has been an overwhelming outpour of tributes online from fellow musicians and fans.

Read the full statement posted to the Hi, How Are You Project Page below:

"The Johnston family is deeply saddened to announce the death of their brother, Daniel Johnston.

He passed away from natural causes this morning at his home outside of Houston, Texas.

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 that "the sun shines down on me" and "true love will find you in the end."

Daniel's life and music inspired the Hi, How Are You Project to encourage open conversation around mental health. His birthday, January 22, is celebrated as Hi, How Are You Day.

Dick Johnston, Daniel's older brother says of Dan, “I always wanted Danny to feel like his own person, and in control of his own life. Since beginning to work and travel with him in about 2003, we gratefully were able to travel the entire globe for over a decade to get out before the fans. He was always, everywhere, warmly received and he at least knew he was well loved. Health issues have plagued us for years, but I’m glad for the time we had.”

Tom Gimbel, Daniel's manager of over 25 years says "I am so saddened by the news of Daniel's passing. It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life to work with Daniel Johnston - someone who I consider to be one of the greatest songwriting geniuses of our time. In our time together Daniel was more than an artist; he was a friend, he was family. I will miss him greatly but will smile every time I hear his songs."

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