By Chris Hammond
An underground hero of the lo-fi scene and inspiration to groups such as Nirvana, schizophrenic and bipolar sufferer Daniel Johnston’s unreal yet emotive music is as unique as he is. Influenced by anything from Captain America to the Beatles, Daniel’s steady stream of ramshackle folksy tunes won him some serious acclaim in the early 90s. His mental state however killed major label interest and led to the artist finding himself in ever increasingly strange situations. Perhaps the most disturbing incident involving Daniel happened in 1990. Daniel’s father Bill, a qualified pilot, was flying the singer back from a successful Austin performance when his son grabbed the ignition keys to the small aircraft they were in and threw them out the window. Daniel had been reading Casper the Friendly Ghost comics at the time and had an episode in which he believed he was the ghost. After a brief struggle, Bill managed to crash-land the plane in a forest. Somehow both men emerged unharmed. Since then there have been ups and downs for the singer, but his cult following has grown, he’s started to tour and his artwork has been sold for five figure sums, which is all Daniel ever wanted.
Key track: Some Things Last A Long Time
Wild Man Fischer
Like Daniel Johnston, Wild Man Fischer suffered from chronic bouts of depression and schizophrenia. The worst of his episodes came at the age of 16 when he attacked his mum with a knife. He was sectioned soon after, but escaped and was discovered busking by the ultimate unhinged musician, Frank Zappa himself. Much of Wild Man Fischer’s work is incoherent, nonsensical and experimental, yet seldom does it lack charm. Despite the support for his music, success wasn’t forthcoming after a series of fall-outs with friends he spent many years homeless. He died last year, living long enough to see his work find an appreciative and audience in his final decade.
Key Track: Monkeys Vs Donkeys
Insane Clown Posse (Pictured)
While nowhere near as off-stage wacky as the previous artists we’ve mentioned, hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse have been bewildering audiences with their often bizarre lyrics and comedic face-paint for over twenty years. Able to mix pseudo-Christian lyrics with odes to sex and crime, the pair’s performances have gained them the sort of committed supporters (known as Juggalos) few in the hip hop scene ever manage. Despite all their popularity, their inability to comprehend magnets (see Miracles) and frequently surreal statements and appearances mean they’re easily up there in the crazy stakes.
Key Track: Miracles