Frigo was a jazz violoinist and a true Chicagoan. And although
jazz was his first love, it never stopped him from picking up gigs with
WLS on the National Barn Dance.
Johnny began taking violin lessons at the age of seven while in elementary school on the south side of Chicago. "The ragman would come around every Saturday, and we'd sell him stuff we'd found in the alley during the week," he told the Chicago Tribune. "His son played violin, and he gave me my first lessons."
His violin playing led him to several area stations including KYW and WGN. After World War II, Johnny hit the road as Jimmy Dorsey's bassist and played with Chico Marx. Despite his significant reputation as a jazz bass player and violinist, he immediately mastered country fiddling when a job opened up at WLS in 1948. Johnny played country fiddle on the National Barn Dance with his group The Sage Riders, as well as a part of the Chore Boys. He went on to play with the Hayloft Gang all the way to the end in 1960, and continued to play occasionally when the show moved to WGN. After WLS, Johnny went on to become one of the world's leading jazz violinists.
Johnny co-wrote such standards as "Detour Ahead" and "I Told You I Love You, Now Get Out," as well as "Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel" to honor the Chicago Cubs during the magical 1969 season.
He passed away on July 5, 2007 after complications from a fall. He had also been battling cancer in recent years, according to his son, Rick Frigo.
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