PORTLAND, Ore. – Dave Frishberg, a songwriter and jazz musician who reached his widest audience by contributing to the Saturday morning animated TV show, “Schoolhouse Rock!” died Wednesday. He was 88 years old.
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Frishberg died in Portland, Oregon, his wife, April Magnusson, confirmed The New York Times.
An accomplished jazz pianist whose spirit resonated with adults, Frishberg’s short, punchy songs on “Schoolhouse Rock!” made it memorable for a younger generation of listeners with songs like “I’m Just a Bill”, “Dollars and Sense”, “Walking on Wall Street” and “The Number Cruncher”.
He wrote his first published aria, “Peel Me a Grape”, in 1962, Weekly entertainment reported.
According to Oregon ArtsWatch, Frishberg moved to Los Angeles in 1971, where he worked as a studio musician and wrote his songs, then moved to Portland in 1986. He was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame In 2008, Oregonian reported.
Frishberg also wrote ballads such as “Do You Miss New York” and “Sweet Kentucky Ham,” and also appealed to baseball fans with his touch. “Van Lingle Mungo”, built entirely from the names of former major league baseball players, chained in a sentimental serenade.
David Lee Frishberg was born March 23, 1933 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Times reported. He started drawing athletes at the age of 7 and wanted to become a sports illustrator, but his brother steered him towards jazz and blues records and the piano, the newspaper reported.
After “Peel Me a Grape”, notably covered by Blossom Dearie, Frishberg followed with “I’m Hip” in 1966 and released the album “Oklahoma Toad” in 1970, according to the Times.
Fellow jazz composer Bob Dorough invited Frishberg to contribute to “Schoolhouse Rock! in 1975. His first contribution to the series in its third season was “I’m Just a Bill”, sung by jazz trumpeter-singer Jack Sheldon, the Times reported.
After his success on “Schoolhouse Rock!” in the 1970s, Frishberg released “The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 1”, which earned him a Grammy nomination in 1982, Weekly entertainment reported.
Frishberg will release two other Grammy-nominated albums: “Live at Vine Street” from 1985 and “Can’t Take You Nowhere” from 1987.
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