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Troubled Musician Finds His Voice, Battles Devil

Daniel Johnston

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a documentary on a manic-depressive musician and artist who started out by releasing his own homemade cassettes in the early '80s.

Known for his very emotionally direct music, Johnston performed solo backed by guitar or piano. He became a local hero in Austin's music scene, and got wider buzz for his music when he managed to work his way in to an MTV special being filmed in Austin in 1985.

Johnston continually struggled with his mental illness while his fame grew, at times requiring him to be hospitalized.

Eventually, a number of influential alternative bands would cover Johnston's work or work with him directly: Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Yo La Tengo, and Half Japanese. Now Johnston has an album, the The Electric Ghosts, which was released March 28.

Director Jeff Feuerzeig talks about the documentary and its subject.

Copyright 2006 XPN

David Dye
David Dye is a longtime Philadelphia radio personality whose music enthusiasm has captivated listeners of World Cafe® since 1991. World Cafe is produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania.