Daniel Johnston, musician and artist behind ‘Hi, How Are You’ mural, has died

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Daniel Johnston, the musician and artist who created the “Hi, How Are You” mural in Austin, died Wednesday morning. Jeremiah the Innocent, his iconic frog, still greets visitors on the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street. Johnston’s do-it-yourself approach to music and promotion inspired generations of Austin artists and made him a pop-culture fixture in the ‘80s.

The “Hi, How Are You” mural in Austin. (Steffi Lee/Nexstar Broadcasting)

The “Hi, How Are You” Project confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon. The foundation was created with support from Johnston and his family and aims to promote conversations around mental well-being. According to the post, the Johnston family says he died from natural causes at his home outside of Houston. 

“I always wanted Danny to feel like his own person, and in control of his own life,” Dick Johnston, his older brother, said in a statement on the organization’s Facebook page. “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.” 

Austinites gathered at the mural on Wednesday to leave well wishes (KXAN/Tim Holcomb)

Johnston struggled with mental illness. In 2018, the “Hi, How Are You” Project helped honor his birthday on Jan. 22, securing the City of Austin’s first designated “How, How Are You” day.  

“I am so saddened by the news of Daniel’s passing,” Tom Gimbel, who was Johnston’s manager for more than 25 years, said in a statement. “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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