Thu 12 Sep 2019 to Tue 8 Oct 2019

PBS was saddened to hear of the passing of American lo-fi singer-songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston. Rising to underground fame in the 80s, Johnston was a prolific musician, recording numerous albums primarily on homemade casette tapes. His music was beautifully simple, sincere and was revered by many including Kurt Cobain and Tom Waits.

 He made his first album, Songs of Pain, in 1980, and got his commercial breakthrough three years later with Hi, How Are You, which came out on the indie label Homestead. Johnston signed to major label Atlantic in 1994 and issued Fun, which found him collaborating with the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary. His last album, Space Ducks, came out in 2010.

"Daniel Johnston’s music touched a nerve with so many of us, because it was honest and vulnerable and raw and real. There was never a glimpse of pretense, and whenever I’ve listened to his recordings it’s almost always been alone and I have always feel like he’s in the room with me; that he’s playing just for me. His lyrics were so specific to his experience, but were so relatable, and delivered in a way that no other artist will ever repeat. What a privilege to have this back catalogue of incredible music and so much wonderful art to continue to enjoy, but my feeling today is that the world will never be the same without him. Another hero gone." Kurt Eckhardt, PBS Staff Member


“This song's about pain and hope and suffering... love

This song's about waiting … and waiting

This song's about gladness, madness

And the difference between

This song's about over

But it will never stop

Not really”

This Song, Daniel Johnston


Listen back to Daniel's interview and live performance on PBS below: