Dave Frishberg, the Grammy-nominated songwriter whose witty lyrics tickled adults even as he found his biggest audience on the children’s series Schoolhouse Rock!, has died at 88 after a long illness, Deadline and New York Times report.
Born March 23rd, 1933, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Frishberg devoted his career to jazzy piano numbers where he delivered jokes and sharp observations in a whiny tenor. The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 1 earned him his first Grammy nod for best male jazz vocal performance in 1982, and he followed that feat with Grammy nominations for The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 2 (1983), Live at Vine Street (1985), and Can’t Take You Nowhere (1987).
But as he acknowledged, his “most well-known song” was “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock! This swanky explainer of the legislative process was sung by jazz trumpeter and vocalist Jack Sheldon, and it brought Frishberg acclaim and a lifetime of residuals while somewhat overshadowing his more grown-up pursuits. He contributed two other tracks to Schoolhouse Rock!, the dive into the stock market, “Walkin’ on Wall Street,” and the balanced-budget banger, “$7.50 Once a Week.”
Those feeling nostalgic will be anxious to return to the Schoolhouse Rock! hits, but don’t miss his other great songs, including the cabaret standard “Peel Me a Grape,” the self-mocking lyrics for “I’m Hip,” the sultry humor of “Slappin’ the Cakes on Me,” and his adult ode to legalese, “My Attorney Bernie.” Check out a selection of his works below.