Early life Daniel Johnston was born in January 22, 1961 from a right winged Christian family, at a young age he felt separated emotionally and spiritually. Ever since he got his first tape recorder he became obsessed with recording his thoughts on cassettes. Daniel went to a local college and thats where he met his artistic vice Laurie Allen. Laurie Allen would later on to become the subject of hundreds of songs. Daniel saw Laurie as every thing good and the most beautiful girl in the world. Over the next 20 years Daniel will write hundreds of songs about his love for Laurie., but has not seen her in 18 years. Daniel originally only wanted to be an artist, but started writing songs to amuse Laurie.
After being seen as Unprofitable Servant by his parents they sent him to live with his brother in Houston. While there he recorded Yip/Jump music with a cassette recorder and a toy organ on a work out bench that he rigged up to be a studio. After a year his brother kicked him out saying You will not become successful with your music and art! then he moved in with his sister in San Marcos. There Daniel recorded Hi, How Are You in the middle of his first nervous breakdown, along with a series of JOE songs documenting the tension between him and his family.
Daniel Johnston is the kind of person that decides what he wants to do, and then goes for it will every thing he has. In 1984 he bought a moped and decided to work for the traveling carnival selling corndogs. One day the carnival Daniel was working for stopped in Austin Texas. Now this is where the legend of Daniel Johnston begins.
One day at the carnival He was going to the bathroom, apparently he was taking to long and angered the big guy waiting to use the bathroom behind him. When Daniel got out the big guy punched him in the face and knocked him out, when he woke up the carnival was gone, and Daniel was left in Austin.
He became somewhat of a local legend in Austin for walking up and down Guadalupe Street giving out cassettes saying, Hi how are you, my name in Daniel Johnston. To Daniel he saw his cassettes as the best business card.
Sometimes he would give out his last tape, meaning he couldnt duplicate anymore. So he would have to go home to record another full tape so he could give it away the next day. If you didnt see Daniel walking the streets handing out tapes then you could find him working at McDonalds. Where he did the jobs with the least amount of skill.
In 1985 Daniel made his first appearance on the MTV show The Cutting Edge. Which was his dream as a kid to be on MTV. After Daniels first appearance on MTV, record labels, magazines, and any one wanting to get in contact with Daniel had to call the McDonalds he worked at, because he didnt own a phone.
You should know theres a rollercoaster esk cycle to Daniels life. When every thing seems to be going good for him, something terrible is going to happen next.
1986 Daniel Johnston was at a butthole surfers concert where he was given some acid and had a mental breakdown. This was the point of Daniels life where his illness took over. Daniel Johnston was a manic-depressive with grand illusions, which basically meant for him was that he would become very bipolar/delusional and think Satan was either coming for him or in other people, which lead him into trouble.
For his second appearance on the show The Cutting Edge Daniel was in a mental institution for trying to cast the devil out of his Manager by hitting him in the head with a lead pipe. After the incident Daniels father Bill Johnston flew down in his two-seated airplane to take his son home to West Virginia.
After a year of not performing members of sonic youth invited Daniel to come to NoiseNY a recording studio in New York, but unknown to every one Daniel stopped taking his medication as soon as he got to New York. What was supposed to be a one-week trip ended up to be 3 weeks of Daniel running wild. While in New York Daniel gave a frightening performance with rants about satan, recorded the album 1990, drew hundreds Jesus fish on the statue of liberty, gave a bum 100 dollars, got beat up and his possessions stolen, played a gig at CBGBs opening for the band Firehouse, and then he decided to go home.
In 1988 Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair of the band Half Japanese got together to record the album Its Spooky. Again Daniel stopped taking his medication and on the way home Daniel got off the bus to soon. It was early in the morning Daniel was delusional and confused looking for a friends house. He was making a ruckus outside and an old lady told him to keep it down from her second story window. When Daniel saw this he thought the elderly lady was possessed by the devil, broke into her house, and the old woman, terrified jumped out of her second story window and broke several bones. After this incident Daniel was hospitalized again.
In 1990 he was invited to play at the Austin Music Awards. The show went according to plan, but on the way home Daniel became delusional and thought he was Casper the ghost and wanted to parachute out of the airplane. So he took the keys out of the engine and threw them out the window. His father Bill is a pilot, a good one at that, and was able to crash land the small plane into a forest in Arkansas walking away with only bruises.
In 1992 Kurt Cobain was seen wearing the Daniel Johnston Hi, How Are You t-shirt which features Jeremiah the frog. Kurt even wore the shirt at the MTV music awards. From this Daniel started to become a cult phenomenon, and had a whole knew fan base. Also at this time Atlantic and Elektra were having a million dollar bidding war over giving Daniel a record deal. While all this is going on Daniel is in a mental institution.
After refusing to sign with Elektras amazing deal because he thought another one of Elektras bands Metallica was ordered by the devil to kill him. So instead he sign a record deal with Atlantic and was dropped after the album Fun was released. Only selling 1500 copies
Today DJ lives in Waller Texas with his parents. He has recreated the art room he had in West Virginia as a kid. He still tours around the world playing shows and having his art in museums. I have seen him perform with cage the elephant, 2 weeks ago he performed at Lipscomb for the opening of an exhibit with over 100 drawings of his.