Schoolhouse Rock Songwriter Dave Frishberg Dies at 88

Dave Frishberg penned one of Schoolhouse Rock's most popular and memorable songs, "I'm Just a Bill"

Dave Frishberg
Photo: MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty

Dave Frishberg, a Schoolhouse Rock! songwriter, died Wednesday. He was 88.

The Grammy-nominated musician's wife, April Magnusson, confirmed his death to The New York Times. Magnusson also announced Frishberg's death on a GoFundMe she created for her husband while he battled an undisclosed illness.

In an update posted to the online fundraiser Wednesday, Magnusson wrote, "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."

She added, "We are saddened to report that Dave passed away today, after battling illness for several years. As a result, we are suspending the campaign, but your thoughts and support are always welcome."

Dave Frishberg
Andrew Lepley/Redferns

Frishberg was an accomplished musician who was widely recognized for his contributions to Schoolhouse Rock!, the animated educational ABC series that ran from 1973 to 2002. He crafted multiple songs for the show, including the beloved government-explainer tune "I'm Just a Bill," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Frishberg started writing "all kinds of songs" in the 1960s, he wrote in his memoir, "My Dear Departed Past," and he published his very first song in 1962 with "Peel Me a Grape," per the Times. He later released "I'm Hip" in 1966 — which, in an eventual rewrite, featured a call-out to PEOPLE — before moving to Los Angeles in 1971, where he worked on NBC's Gene Kelly show, The Funny Side.

While The Funny Side came to an end after nine episodes, Frishberg was later tapped to join Schoolhouse Rock! in 1975 by Bob Dorough, a writer and musical director on the show, according to the Times.

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He wrote "I'm Just a Bill" for the third season of the show, collaborating with jazz trumpeter and vocalist Jack Sheldon on the track, which Frishberg deemed his "most well-known song," per the Times.

In 1981, Frishberg released The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 1, which scored him a Grammy nomination. He followed the release with Volume No. 2 in 1983. Frishberg received Grammy nods for two more albums, Live at Vine Street (1985) and Can't Take You Nowhere (1987), according to EW.

Frishberg later moved to Portland in 1986, where he stayed for the rest of his life, the Times reports. He is survived by Magnusson and his sons.

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