Daniel Johnston, a cult singer-songwriter who inspired Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, and Jeff Tweedy, died on Wednesday, his family confirmed. He was 58.
Johnston died of natural causes in his home near Houston. In a statement, Johnston’s family said he was a “friend to all” and “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.”
Johnston’s first album, Songs of Pain, came out in 1980, and his most famous songs include “True Love Will Find You in the End,” “Walking the Cow,” and “Life in Vain.” Cobain called him one of the “greatest” songwriters, and his songs have been covered by Beck, Lana Del Rey, Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, and the Flaming Lips. In 2005, a documentary about Johnston was released, called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and another movie about his life, Hi, How Are You: A Short Film, was made in 2015.
Johnston was also an artist, and his pieces have appeared in galleries around the world, but his most beloved work is the “Hi, How Are You” mural in Austin, Texas. Johnston’s brother, Dick, told Rolling Stone on Wednesday that after their father died two years ago, he found boxes filled with his brother’s unreleased recordings and documents. “We’ll be spending a long time sorting out what he’s left behind,” he said. “We have lots more to share.” Catherine Garcia