Premier Jazz Violinist Johnny Frigo Dies

Versatile jazz violinist Johnny Frigo died this week at age 90. Frigo played with Jimmy Dorsey's orchestra in the 1940s, and formed his own Soft Winds Jazz Trio in 1947. His hits included "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out" and "Detour Ahead."

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Johnny Frigo died this week. He was 90, and considered to be perhaps the premier violinist in contemporary jazz up until his final days. He played with Jimmy Dorsey's big band in the 1940s and formed his own Soft Winds jazz trio in 1947. The name was a joke about their bass in Chicago. Their biggest hits were "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out," and "Detour Ahead."

Over the next 60 years, Johnny Frigo would play with an astonishing variety of gifted musicians - from Charlie Bird to Chico Marx to Barbara Streisand to Mahalia Jackson. Although he was a renowned accompanist, he didn't receive much recognition for leading his own band until the late 1980s when he put out several well-received albums.

He played the violin twice on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." And when Mr. Carson asked why he waited so long to become famous, Johnny Frigo answered, so there won't be enough time left for me to be a has been.

One of his best-known recordings will always be about a group of people you might call hapless, if not has beens. Here's Johnny Frigo's 1969 theme song for the Chicago Cubs.

(Soundbite of song "Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Hey, hey, holy mackerel, no doubt about it, the Cubs are on their way.

SIMON: Johnny Frigo's music definitely not accompanied by Dinah Washington or any other famous singer. Johnny Frigo was 90 when he died this week in Chicago.

(Soundbite of song "Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Are going to win today. Hey, hey, holy mackerel, no doubt about it. The Cubs are on their way. They've got the hustle. They've got the muscle. The Chicago Cubs are on their way.

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.