Premier Jazz Violinist Johnny Frigo Dies

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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."


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.

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