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Johnny Frigo: 1916-2007
Johnny Frigo
Violin, bass

Born: December 27, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois
Died: July 4, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois

Veteran Chicago violinist/bassist

Copyright © 2007 

Veteran Chicago multi-instrumentalist Johnny Frigo died from complications following a fall in the lobby of condominium in mid-June.

Born on the city's South Side, Frigo began playing the violin at the age of seven. In junior high school he switched to tuba, and then switched again to bass during high school.

In 1942, he joined an orchestra led by Chico Marx and featuring Mel Torme. After two years of service in the US Coast Guard he joined Jimmy Dorsey's band, and then formed Soft Winds with guitarist Herb Ellis and pianist Lou Carter.

In Chicago, Frigo maintained a busy career as a studio musician for radio and TV commercials, frequently working in a duo with pianist Dick Marx. He composed a number of popular songs, including "Detour Ahead," "I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out!" and "Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel."

Although he had made a good living as a bassist, he returned to the violin in 1981 and worked as part of a quartet with Ellis, Ray Brown and Monty Alexander in Santa Monica, California. Throughout the '80s and '90s he maintained a busy schedule, frequently playing at Chicago's Green Mill Jazz Club. He recorded several well-regarded albums, including Debut Of A Legend and Live From Studio A In New York City for the Chesky label.

Frigo is survived by his wife, the former actress Brittney Browne, and their son, Rick, a jazz drummer. Another son, Derek, a guitarist, died in 2004.

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With 3 reader comments, latest July 22, 2010