born on 27/12/1916 in Chicago, IL, United States
died on 4/7/2007 in Chicago, IL, United States
Alias John Frigo
Johnny Frigo (December 27, 1916 July 4, 2007) was an American jazz violinist and bassist.
His son, Derek John Frigo, was the lead guitarist for the rock band Enuff Z'nuff. Derek Frigo died of a drug overdose on May 28, 2004.
Johnny Frigo died at age 90 of complications from a fall. He had been battling cancer according to some reports of his death.
Frigo was born in Chicago, Illinois, and studied violin for only three years beginning at age 7. In high school he started to play double bass in dance orchestras, and would continue his career as a bassist for several decades. In 1942 he played with Chico Marx's orchestra and did a comedy routine on violin with Marx on piano. He entered the United States Coast Guard during World War II only to find himself playing in a band on Ellis Island with Al Haig and Kai Winding.
After a brief turn at active service near the end of the war he moved to New Jersey. He toured with Jimmy Dorsey's band from 1945 to 1947, later forming the Soft Winds trio with Dorsey's guitarist Herb Ellis and pianist Lou Carter. During this time he wrote the music and words of the standard "Detour Ahead", which has been recorded by Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans, and Carola among others.
In 1951 Frigo returned to Chicago, primarily working as a studio bassist and arranger. He also led the band at Mr. Kelly's, a popular Rush Street nightspot. Between 1951 and 1960 he played fiddle hoedowns and novelties with the Sage Riders, the house band for WLS's long-running National Barn Dance. He continued playing with the Sage Riders for another fourteen years after WGN revived the show in 1961. John Frigo is credited as playing fiddle for the track "A Rectangle Picture" on the Mason Proffit album "Wanted" released in 1969 on the Happy Tiger label.
In the mid-1980s Frigo largely abandoned playing bass to refocus on the violin. After sitting in with Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis at Chicago's Jazz Showcase, Alexander invited him to join the trio for several upcoming live dates that produced Triple Treat II and Triple Treat III (Concord 1987). Johnny Carson once asked Frigo why it took so long to start his career as a violinist. Frigo replied "I wanna take as long as I could in my life so I wouldn't have time to become a has-been".
He performed as a jazz violinist at festivals worldwide, including the Umbria Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival. Frigo also was a published poet and artist and played flugelhorn. He wrote and performed the 1969 Chicago Cubs fight song "Hey Hey, Holy Mackerel."
|Jump Presents Johnny Frigo||2009-06-02|| JCD 12-33
Frigo's last studio recording
under his name and leadership.
|Summer Me! Johnny Frigo Live at Battle Ground||2008-07-24||8021||Log Cabin Records|
|Johnny Frigo's DNA Exposed!||2002-02-05||19258||Arbors Records|
|Live at the Floating Jazz Festival||1999-08-24||358||Chiaroscuro Records|
|Debut of a Legend||1994-01-01||JD119||Chesky Records|
|Live from Studio A in New York City||1988-11-16|| CD: JD001
|I Love John Frigo...He Swings||1957-12-12|| LP: MG20285
CD: Verve 145602
|You're Getting Better: The Word Jazz Dot Masters||2007-08-01|| Ken Nordine
|Solitaire Miles||2006-01-01||Solitaire Miles||Seraphic Records|
|Quiet Village: The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny||2006-11-21||Martin Denny||Rev-Ola Records|
|Out of Nowhere||2006-01-01||Harold Fethe||Southport Records|
|Keep the Coffee Coming||2006-09-16|| Anita O'Day
|Blue Suede Shoes: Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight||2006-02-28||Pee Wee King||Bear Family|
|Simply...With Spirit||2005-05-10||Hanna Richardson & Phil Flanigan||Arbors Records|
|Barn Dance Favorites||2004-09-08||Pine Valley Cosmonauts||Bloodshot Records|
|Strange Weather||2004-05-04||Jack Donahue||P.S. Classics|
|Multitude of Stars||2004-06-08||Statesmen of Jazz||Arbors Records|
|Hot Club of 52nd Street||2004-05-25||Bucky Pizzarelli & Howard Alden||Chesky Records|
|Singin' Our Mind/Reflectin'||2004-05-25|| Chad Mitchell Trio
2 in 1
|Collectors' Choice Music|
|The Slightly Irreverent/Typical American Boys||2003-10-07|| Chad Mitchell Trio
2 in 1
|Collectors' Choice Music|
|Legends||2003-07-01||Skitch Henderson & Bucky Pizzarelli||Arbors Records|
|Delicate Hour||2003-01-07||Patty Morabito||Lml Music|
|Triple Scoop||2002-03-26||Monty Alexander||Concord Records|
|Pentimento||2002-06-04||Jessica Molaskey||P.S. Classics|
|Talkin' Verve||2001-03-27||Buddy Greco||Polygram Records|
|RCA Country Legends||2001-09-25||Skeeter Davis||Buddah Records|
|Hoagy on My Mind||2001-07-17||Phillip Officer||Jerome Records|
|Now and Then||2001-01-01||Claiborne Cary||Original Cast Record|
|Time, Seasons and the Moon||2000-09-19||Linda Tate||Southport Records|
|Little Things We Do Together||2000-01-01||Anne Pringle & Mark Burnell||Spectrum Records|
|Round About||1999-02-09||Audrey Morris||Fancy Faire|
|Royal Street||1997||Raul Reynoso|
- Sleaze Roxx web site
- 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bernstein, Adam, Johnny Frigo, 90; Jazz Violinist and Bassist, Washington Post, July 6, 2007.
- ASCAP web site
"Comes Love" Debut CD from jazz vocalist, Elaine Dame, released on the blujazz label in June 2005
- NPR Obit
- Findarticles obituary