Dave Frishberg, a four-time Grammy nominee whose career as a prolific, comedic jazz songwriter stretched more than five decades, died Wednesday at age 88 in Portland, Oregon, following an illness. His wife confirmed his death to the New York Times.
Though Frishberg worked prominently with several major artists over his long career, he is perhaps best known for his contribution to the 1970s Saturday morning cartoon “Schoolhouse Rock,” including the memorable song “I’m Just a Bill” about how Congress passes legislation.
Born in 1933 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Frishberg learned to play Jazz and other forms of popular music from a young age; after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree, he served in the Air Force for two years, after which he moved to New York City to pursue a music career.
He made a name for himself through his humorous compositions often referencing or satirizing popular culture and current events, and moved to Los Angeles in 1971 where he began working as a session musician and film and TV composer. This led eventually to his work on “Schoolhouse Rock,” and “I’m Just a Bill,” which remains perhaps the best known song from the show’s 1973-1983 run, having been parodied by “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live.”
He was also nominated for the Best Jazz Vocals Grammy award four times.
Frishberg moved to Portland in 1986 and remained there until his death, continuing to record and perform well into the 2010s.
For those who never saw the show during it’s run, here’s “I’m Just a Bill.”