Danny Garrett contributed many pieces of art to the Austin Sun over the years. An amazing feat for a guy who held degrees in finance and history. Oh, well, fate sometimes works better than the best laid plans. Without fate, we would never have the multitude of great art that Danny has contributed to the Austin Sun and the Austin music scene over the years.
According to his bio, Danny was born on February 21, 1945 in Dodge City, Kansas — a birthplace distinction that he shares with Dennis Hopper. Born there only because of his father’s war time service, he spent the first 7 years of his life in my parents’ home town of Mart, Texas about 17 miles east of Waco until the family moved to Lake Jackson, on the upper Texas coast in 1952. Danny graduated from Brazosport High School in 1963. and entered the University of Houston that fall, majoring in Finance. After those two foolish moves, he relocated to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches in 1966. In January 1968 he graduated with a BA in History.
However, after only one semester of graduate school, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1968. After training stints at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Ft. Ord in Monterrey, California, and Ft. Benning, Georgia, Danny shipped out for Viet Nam. There he was ensconced in the Americal Division, home of such military luminaries as Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Lt. William Calley of My Lai infamy. After 10.5 months there he returned home with an honorable discharge and shrapnel in my left eye. This concluded the “BC” part of his life.
Home and out of the service, he began the second or “AD” part of my life in the spring of 1970 by moving to Austin, Texas. Danny was one of the very lucky individuals that spent that wonderful decade in that incandescently wonderful city. This is also where and when he began to practice his art. Looking up Jim Franklin at Armadillo World Headquarters, he was given his first poster assignment, John Sebastian. From that spring until New Year’s Eve, 1979, he executed over a dozen AWHQ titles. Danny also did work for Castle Creek, Soap Creek Saloon, The Texas Opry House, The Austin Opera House, and many other Austin music venues. In 1976, he also began to produce work for Antone’s, Austin’s Home of the Blues.
It is probably for his work at Antone’s, 1976 – 2005, for which he is best known in music art and ephemera. Clifford Antone created the finest blues club in the world in the last quarter of the 20th Century and it was Danny’s greatest and enduring honor to have been a part of that. He had the privilege of meeting and promoting some of the greats of the Chicago blues scene – Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B. B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and James Cotton – just to name a few. It was also his great honor to hear and promote the blues from such young Texas artists like Jimmie Vaughan, Derek O’Brien, Denny Freeman, Paul Ray and Stevie Ray Vaughan – again, just to name a few.
Other musicians that Danny has had the honor of promoting include – but are not limited to – Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Charles, Warren Zevon, and Eric Clapton.
In addition to the music work that Danny has done, there is also a substantial body of film and computer game work that I have done as well. He was the art director of the award-winning Daniel Erickson film, Scary Movie, additionally doing copious signage, prop and set work, as well as storyboarding for a number of studio productions. From 1991 – 1997, he worked in the computer game industry, specifically for Origin Systems.
He has since returned to Austin, and just published his book, Weird Yet Strange: Notes from an Austin music artist, in 2015. The book received the Texas State Historical Association’s Ron Tyler Award for Best Illustrated Book on Texas History and Culture for 2015.