Honoring the Musical Legacy of Dave Frishberg

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's Statement:

Oregon is mourning a Portland treasure, Dave Frishberg, who passed away on November 17.

While perhaps best known for writing the song “I’m Just a Bill” for the iconic Schoolhouse Rock television series, Dave was also a virtuoso pianist with a songwriting gift that reached far beyond his work for that classic series. During his career, Dave worked with a wide array of talented musicians, including Rosemary Clooney, Gene Krupa, and Zoot Sims. A versatile composer, his compositions ranged from melancholy ballads to satirical ditties, and his wry wit was well known as one of the sharpest in the business.

Dave has left an indelible mark not only on Capitol Hill, where one frequently sees references to “I’m Just A Bill” on floor charts and in press releases, but also in the minds of generations of young Americans lucky enough to grow up watching Schoolhouse Rock with the lyrics still etched in their memories decades later.

David Lee Frishberg was born on March 23, 1933 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He took an early interest in jazz, bebop, and boogie woogie as a teen, while playing as a house musician in Saint Paul. Noting in his memoir, “Jazz musicians were hip, they were funny, they were sensitive, they were clannish, and they seemed to have the best girlfriends.” In 1957, Dave moved to New York City, where he established himself as a pianist in the vibrant music scene of Greenwich Village. While in New York, he wrote and performed other well-known songs such as “My Attorney Bernie” and “Peel Me a Grape.” He moved to Los Angeles in 1971, where he earned acclaim in the jazz and comedy scenes through his work with Schoolhouse Rock and his “Dave Frishberg Songbook” series. An unassuming vocalist with a reedy voice, Frishberg was nominated four times during his career for Grammy awards, all for Best Jazz Vocals.

Dave, who called Portland his home for the past 35 years and is survived by his wife April Magnusson and his two sons from a prior marriage, inspired millions of school children and music lovers across Oregon and the entire country.

He will be greatly missed, even as his legacy lives on for generations to come.

The 1905 will be hosting a tribute to the esteemed musician Dave Frishberg on December 9th, 2021. The event will be available for in-person patrons and streaming online from our Facebook page and Youtube channel.

Purchase tickets for the 5pm in-person event HERE, and the live stream can be found HERE

Purchase tickets for the 8pm in-person event HERE, and the live stream can be found HERE

Rebecca Kilgore, Vocals
Randy Porter, Piano
Tom Wakeling, Bass
Charlie Doggett, Drums

At the request of the family, proceeds from performances will be donated to musicares.org.

More information on Dave Frishberg: (b. March 23, 1933) enjoyed a career remarkable for both its quality and its diversity. Long known as one of the outstanding pianists in jazz, Frishberg also established himself as an internationally recognized composer and lyricist as well as a solo performer with a loyal following.

Early in his career, during the 1960s, he was a busy pianist in New York City, playing regularly with the major jazz artists of the time, including Ben Webster, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Carmen McRae, and Gene Krupa. In 1971 he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a studio musician and stayed active in jazz circles. He has recorded with a diverse array of artists, including Manhattan Transfer, Jimmy Rushing, Bud Freeman, Bill Berry’s L.A. Band, Susannah McCorkle, Kenny Davern, and Rebecca Kilgore.

Frishberg became best known for writing and recording his own songs and performing them in prominent jazz and cabaret venues. His song credits include cult classics My Attorney Bernie, Van Lingle Mungo, Peel Me A Grape and You Are There. Four Frishberg albums have earned Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal. Other artists who have recorded his songs include Susannah McCorkle, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, Blossom Dearie, Carol Sloane, John Pizzarelli, Bob Dorough, Tony Bennett, Jamie Cullum, and Mel Torme. His songs, including the well-known I’m Just A Bill, appeared regularly on ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock series.

Frishberg’s latest recordings are on the Arbors Jazz label. Latest Arbors CD is Retromania: Dave Frishberg at The Jazz Bakery. His earlier recordings are available on the Concord, Blue Note, and Fantasy labels.