Schoolhouse Rock! Songwriter Dave Frishberg Dies At 88
Dave Frishberg, a songwriter on Schoolhouse Rock! known for penning the educational "I'm Just a Bill," has passed away at the age of 88. News of the four-time Grammy-nominated musician's death was confirmed to the New York Times by his wife, April Magnusson, who said Frishberg died on Wednesday, November 17th in Portland, OR. The iconic "I'm Just a Bill" debuted on the third season of ABC's animated program Schoolhouse Rock!, with Jack Shelton singing the tune of a bill working its way through Congress in order to become a law. It taught children the process of how Congress votes on bills, and how they can be vetoed or passed, though this particular bill was for buses being forced to stop at railroad crossings.
Some other popular Schoolhouse Rock! songs from Frishberg include the stock market-focused "Walkin' on Wall Street" and the budget-conscious "$7.50 Once a Week." His two Grammy-nominated albums were 1981's The Dave Frishberg Songbook, 1983's Volume No. 1, The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 2, 1985's Live at Vine Street and 1987's Can't Take You Nowhere.
An accomplished musician and composer, Frishberg was born in St. Paul, MN on March 23, 1933. Back in 2006 he returned to the Twin Cities to record with the local jazz artist Connie Evingson. "My first band experience was with the Bob Oches Combo—Oches on trumpet, Tom Tjornhom on trombone, Paul Finley on tenor sax, King Jobson on drums, Bob Jensen from Minneapolis Roosevelt High on bass. We rehearsed at Bob Oches's house near Macalester," he told the Jazz Police. It's here where Frishberg said he "started my real professional music career while at the University of Minnesota."
Frishberg revealed the people who influenced his career the most were Al Cohn, Jimmy Rowles, and Dave Karr. "Also I was a big fan of Tatum and others—Errol Garner and the boppers, Al Haig, and Bud Powell," Frishberg added. "I was already in the Twin Cities Big League, but then I heard a Jimmy Rowles record. Something about the way he played and touched the piano changed me. I wanted to play with and learn from him. I listened to him play on the Woody Herman Small Band sides, and on Peggy Lee's 'Black Coffee' on a 10-inch LP from Decca. It showed me how brilliant and elegant an accompanist could be. Rowles had everything."
Dave Frishberg leaves behind his wife, April Magnusson, and their two sons.