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Loss of a Canberran Icon

By sunshine - 8 August 2008 70

Photobucket[ED – Thanks to Sally McFadden for sending in a photo of Daniel]

Rest in peace Daniel McFadden, we’ll miss seeing you selling your paintings around Civic and your welcoming smile always eager to share a story with anyone passing by.

Some people knew you as Filthy McFadden but you were Danny and we will always remember you.

Canberra has lost a true icon.

[ED – Daniel was also an astonishingly talented pianist when the opportunity presented itself]

[ED Again – Am I alone in thinking that a sculpture of Daniel would be a really useful piece of public art on City Walk?]

UPDATED: Culturazi has a lengthy obit.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wonsworld has posted with us his own memory of Danny that I commend to you:

    I knew Danny and have known his family since before school (our fathers worked together… his dad was my dad’s manager). Back then we were in the same group of three or four close friends and used to hang around quite a bit. We used to go into the bush near his house and build forts in Summer. In Winter, we played on the same school football team (both were second rowers) and we hung around and caught yabbies and played as kids do. The only time I ever heard him being called Daniel, was when we buggered off without telling anyone where we were going and his mother would lecture us when we got back.

    Through high school we started to develop different friend sets. Danny was kept back a year and we had different people in our groups but would still occasionally get together at his place or mine and play records or watch telly or whatever. Most people change as they grow up through school but Danny really changed and not in the way all my other mates did as we grew up. Danny was different only back then I had no clue as to why. It’s now so obvious.

    Not long after high school he moved to Canberra and I ended up down the south coast and our lives went in totally separate directions. We would catch up on the odd occasion but Danny was a different person and it was not as a result of a drug habit/problem.

    His condition was not a result of drugs and those who are suggesting as much never knew the guy as he was before his mental illness took hold. The drugs certainly did not help (and probably accelerated) his condition but they came after (possibly to try make some sense of his world) but Danny was once just a normal person that you would pass by in the street and not take a second glance at. Just like anyone else.

    I don’t know if he was a genius or just a tortured soul. But he was his own worst enemy in the end. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s he would less and less frequently come back home and some times he would be old Danny again. He would be on his prescribed meds and feel he was fine and all was well with the world to the point where he would believe that he did not need his medication any more… so he would stop.

    As a result, his world would slip and when his family tried to convince him to continue taking them, he believed that they were trying to poison him etc and he would return to Canberra. Each time it would be worse and worse. When I saw his father occasionally and I would ask after him, the answer would always start with “Oh… poor Danny”, though I am sure that they never told me the worst of it.

    I mentioned in RiotACT some time ago (in a previous rant someone was having about Danny) that the last time I saw him, he no longer recognised me as he asked for some smokes and loose change in exchange for art work. It was him but it wasn’t the Danny I knew years before.

    So now Danny is gone and whatever pains he suffered (or those around Civic who had to deal with him suffered) are gone… but I really feel for his dad, Mr Mac, who is one of nature’s true gentlemen and for his mother and family who tried their best with an un-win-able situation.

What’s Your opinion?

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70 Responses to
Loss of a Canberran Icon
realityskin 11:06 am 09 Aug 08

vg said :

most people would hold a different opinion to the OP

totally, wtf, an icon of a crack head in civic ? no thanks.

Absent Diane 9:02 am 09 Aug 08

who are you to say who is an icon..?

anyway met him a couple of times as a youngster in the mid-to late 90’s at the phoenix as did most people in the bar. certainly wasn’t someone who ifound pleasurable to talk to but definately interesting character.. maybe canberra’s own weslesy willis?

vg 8:30 am 09 Aug 08

I would hardly have called him an icon.

I will leave it at that, not nice to speak ill of the recently passed other to say that most people would hold a different opinion to the OP

TheDogz 12:59 am 09 Aug 08

Always found him abusive myself.

johnboy 12:56 am 09 Aug 08

Personally I think he’d make a great subject for a public sculpture on city walk.

scootergal 12:52 am 09 Aug 08

He was one of the first Characters I met when I first moved to Canberra, and yes I have one of his works.

Overheard 12:36 am 09 Aug 08

He was a character alright, and had a fascinating family history which he would share within anyone ready to listen (and many who weren’t!!) A gifted man who, like many others, you just wonder what he might have achieved if that talent could have been channelled differently.

johnboy 11:05 pm 08 Aug 08

Not *that* tall IIRC.

He had a strong beard and a nose that had been through the wringer and he was heavy set.

But yes a big man, unfortunately intimidated a lot of women he loomed over with his drawings.

Morgan 10:58 pm 08 Aug 08

Is that the really tall guy in the overcoat?

sunshine 10:52 pm 08 Aug 08

he had a bad heart and other physical conditions as well. it was just his time to go after living such a hard life.

sunshine 10:49 pm 08 Aug 08

he died peacefully in his sleep in his own bed on wednesday night

johnboy 10:48 pm 08 Aug 08

I know nothing of the details.

But I did research an article a while ago on the plight of the older homeless, only to discover there aren’t many. They just look old and they die young.

I-filed 10:44 pm 08 Aug 08

Did he suicide? What happened?

Joe Canberran 10:35 pm 08 Aug 08

I’m sure I have a charcoal drawing or two of his somewhere.


sunshine 10:32 pm 08 Aug 08

yes he was – would often go to St Christophers Church and play his heart out – much to the priest’s delight 🙂

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