Dave Frishberg, known for his hits like ‘You Are There’ and his catchy songs on ‘Schoolhouse Rock!,’ died on Wednesday in Portland, Oregon at age 88.
Frishberg had been sick for the past few years, and his wife, April Magnusson, created a GoFundMe account once his health began deteriorating. She stopped the fundraiser yesterday after his death, and supporters donated a total of $63,413.
“We are so grateful for your kindness, support, well-wishing and encouragement. With your help, Dave was able to get the support and care he needed. We are saddened to report that Dave passed away today, after battling illness for several years,” Magnusson posted on the campaign.
She also wrote that people who would like to donate in memory of Dave could send money to MusiCares, an organization providing “a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.”
Known in the jazz world for his piano sets, Frishberg first established himself in the early 1980s as a composer, lyricist and performer in jazz and cabaret circles around the world. Four of his albums have won been nominated for Grammys for best jazz vocal.
He authored such classics as “Peel Me A Grape,” “I’m Hip,” “You Are There,” “My Attorney Bernie” and “Heart’s Desire.” His songs are known for their dry humor and wit, as well as tender characterizations of everyday people.
Frishberg describes himself as “a pianist who has always written songs and finally summoned up the nerve to sing them in public.”
His quirky song lyrics and melodies had a habit of sticking in people’s heads, which eventually helped schoolchildren around the country learn history. His songs were a hit on ABC Television’s popular “Schoolhouse Rock!” series, including “Seven-Fifty Once A Week”, “Walkin’ On Wall Street” and the well-known “I’m Just A Bill.”
In one of the series’ most iconic videos, “I’m Just a Bill,” Frishberg’s song teaches schoolchildren about the legislative process by portraying a scrap of paper named Bill who is aspiring to someday become a law. Bill prances around the Capitol, singing, “I know I’ll be a law some day. At least I hope and pray that I will. But today I am still just a bill.”
Frishberg grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and loved to collect old baseball books and magazines from the 1940s and earlier.
“I couldn’t tell you who played in last year’s World Series,” he once confessed. “But if you want to talk about Chet Laabs or Elbie Fletcher, we can do that.”
He later attended journalism school at the University of Minnesota and served in the Air Force. He then joined the New York City jazz scene of the 1960s. In 1971, Frishberg moved to Los Angeles, where he became active as a studio musician, continued to write songs and began to make records as a featured artist. Since 1986, he lived in Portland, Ore., where he eventually passed away.
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