Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Devastating Death Of Dave Frishberg

Sly and sarcastic jazz musician Dave Frishberg, best known for his "Schoolhouse Rock!" compositions, died at the age of 88 on Wednesday, November 17. Frishberg's wife, April Magnusson, confirmed his death to the New York Times the next day.

Frishberg created more than a few popular tunes since his music career began in the 1960s. Best known for authoring the "Schoolhouse Rock!" single "I'm Just a Bill" (performed by Jack Shelton), his lyrical wit and inventive melodies also earned him accolades outside the world of edu-tainment. Frishberg's own albums earned him four Grammy Nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. He also sold a series of successful singles in songs like "Peel Me a Grape" and "My Attorney Bernie."

Frishberg, who died of an unspecified illness, had his health in decline for the past several years. In June 2019, Magnusson launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to help support his growing healthcare expenses. In total, the campaign raised $63,413 from 775 donations.

Dave Frishberg wrote iconic songs for Schoolhouse Rock!

Born David Lee Frishberg on March 23, 1933, he spent his childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota listening to the music introduced to him by his older brother, Mort. Frishberg cut his teeth on the likes of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bing Crosby, and followed Mort's example in learning the piano. After graduating in Journalism from St. Paul University and serving two years in the Air Force, Frishberg became part of the New York Jazz scene. He made his name performing in jazz and cabaret clubs across the city alongside other musicians like Anita O'Day, Zoot Sims, and Ben Webster.

In 1971, he moved to Los Angeles and began working as a studio musician. During this time he began contributing to the children's series, "Schoolhouse Rock!," writing the songs "Seven-Fifty Once A Week" and "Walkin' On Wall Street" in addition to the iconic "I'm Just a Bill" (via davidfrishberg.net). Throughout the 1980s, Frishberg released four solo albums starting with "The David Frishberg Songbook, Vol No. 1," each of which netted him a Grammy nomination.

In 1986, Frishberg moved with his second wife, Cynthia Wagman, to Portland, Oregon. There, he had a second child, divorced, and later married Magnusson in 2000. Though he never stopped writing music, Fishberg's declining health forced him to stop working later in life. In addition to Magnusson, he is survived by his two sons Harry and Max.