Donnie Fritts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Donnie Fritts
Birth nameDonald Ray Fritts
Born(1942-11-08)November 8, 1942
Florence, Alabama, U.S.
DiedAugust 27, 2019(2019-08-27) (aged 76)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation(s)Session musician, songwriter
Associated actsKris Kristofferson

Donald Ray Fritts[1] (November 8, 1942 – August 27, 2019) was an American session musician and songwriter. A recording artist in his own right, he was Kris Kristofferson's keyboardist for over forty years. In 2008, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.[2]

Early career[edit]

He began playing drums in local bands such as The Satellites and Hollis Dixon & the Keynotes at age 15, and later developed into a session keyboard player.[3]

Working closely with Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill, Dan Penn, Arthur Alexander, David Briggs, Jerry Carrigan and Norbert Putnam, Fritts was involved in many of the early songs and recordings created in the Muscle Shoals music industry.

Kris Kristofferson[edit]

In 1965, Fritts signed with a Nashville publishing company. Songs which he wrote were recorded by Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. He later met Kris Kristofferson who was just beginning a career in songwriting. When forming his band, Kristofferson called on Fritts, who continued as his keyboard player for over two decades, performing live, on recordings and in numerous movies.[4]

Through his association with Kristofferson, Fritts appeared in three of Sam Peckinpah's movies: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and Convoy as well as other movies including A Star Is Born and Songwriter.[5]

Recording artist[edit]

In 1974, Kristofferson and producer Jerry Wexler co-produced Prone To Lean at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Everybody's Got A Song was released in 1998. The album included guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Waylon Jennings, Delbert McClinton, Tony Joe White, Leroy Parnell & John Prine. It would be another ten years before Fritts released his third album One Foot in the Groove in 2008 produced by Dan Penn with Ron Laury, recorded at Dandy Studio in Nashville.

In 2014, he appeared on Country Funk Vol. II, a compilation album from Light in the Attic.[6] In 2015, he signed with Single Lock Records.[7]


Fritts died from complications of heart surgery on August 27, 2019, at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.[1][8]


  • Prone To Lean (1974)
  • Everybody's Got A Song (1997)
  • One Foot in the Groove (2008)
  • Oh My Goodness (2015)[9]
  • June (A Tribute To Arthur Alexander) (2018)[10]

Chart songs as a songwriter[edit]

Song Title Recording Artist US Chart Year
"Easy To Love" Joe Simon 12 1977
"You're Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning" Bonnie Koloc 12 1974
"You're Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning" Charlie Rich 22 1980
"Choo Choo Train" Boxtops 26 1968
"We Had It All" Waylon Jennings 28 1973
"We Had It All" Dolly Parton 28 1986
"You're Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning" Roy Clark 35 1975
"Breakfast in Bed" Dusty Springfield b side of Son Of A Preacher Man 10 1968
"Breakfast in Bed" UB40 featuring Chrissie Hynde 8 1988

Cultural references[edit]

Kris Kristofferson’s song The Pilgrim - Chapter 33 (1971) opens with a dedication to Funky Donnie Fritts, Billy Swan, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Johnny Cash.

Jerry Jeff Walker's 1975 song "Pissin' in the Wind" opens with a dedication to Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, "Funky Donnie Fritts", and Billy Swan.


  1. ^ a b Friskics-Warren, Bill (August 29, 2019). "Donnie Fritts, Who Bridged Soul and Country Music, Dies at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-12. Retrieved 2015-07-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2009-05-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Donnie Fritts".
  6. ^ "V/A - Country Funk Volume II 1967 - 1974". Light In The Attic Records.
  7. ^ "Donnie Fritts To Release New Album This Fall". June 25, 2015.
  8. ^ Corey, Russ (August 28, 2019). "Singer/songwriter Donnie Fritts dies at age 76". TimesDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Songs We Love: Donnie Fritts, 'Errol Flynn'".
  10. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (July 9, 2018). "Donnie Fritts to Pay Tribute to Arthur Alexander on New Album". Rolling Stone.

External links[edit]