Live: Daniel Johnston, Austin
Editor’s Note: Thanks to our Austin correspondent Lily Angelle for the photos and the report from Daniel Johnston’s short birthday party.
On Saturday, the singer/songwriter/artist Daniel Johnston turned 50 and he celebrated with a couple of personal appearances in Austin. After a short visit to Waterloo Records, Johnston turned up at his famous “Hi, How Are You” mural (at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe, across from the University of Texas campus).
Well-wishers sang him “Happy Birthday” then Johnston pulled out an acoustic guitar to sing a few of his own songs. Then he posed for a few photos with fans and that was it. Happy Birthday, Daniel.
Johnston, who lives in Waller, Texas, just northwest of Houston, is the “outsider” rocker who became famous when he started handing out tapes to people in Austin and when Nirvana guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain wore a t-shirt with Johnston’s “Hi, How Are You” painting to an MTV event in 1992. Cobain professed his love for “pure underground music” and talked up Johnston’s music. The image originally appeared on a 1983 album cover, and 10 years later Johnston was asked to recreate the frog painting on the side of a Sound Exchange record store.
The mural has remained to this day, even though the store has transformed itself a couple of times (it’s now a sushi restaurant). And recent additions to the picture by vandals didn’t seem to bother Johnston, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He’s certainly a beloved artist among New York and California types, and his songs have been covered by a number of musicians.
YouTube: Daniel Johnston performing at his 50th birthday event in Austin
YouTube: Daniel Johnston performing “Speeding Motorcycle” at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, Jan. 14, 2011.
YouTube: “True Love Will Find You In The End”