Rocky Frisco

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Rocky Frisco
Birth nameDon Roscoe Joseph III
Born(1937-07-26)July 26, 1937
St. Louis, Missouri
OriginTulsa, Oklahoma
DiedMay 26, 2015(2015-05-26) (aged 77)
GenresFolk, rock, blues
Years active1957–2015
Associated actsJ. J. Cale Band

Don Roscoe Joseph III (July 26, 1937 – May 26, 2015), professionally known as Rocky Frisco and Rocky Curtiss, was an American musician. He was best known as the longtime pianist for J. J. Cale, and for his role in the development of the music style known as the Tulsa Sound.[1][2]

Music career[edit]

Frisco was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to Tulsa and attended Central High School in the 1950s, where he met J. J. Cale and graduated in 1955.[3] Frisco and Cale played together in Gene Crose's band starting in 1957.[3] In the Fall of 1958, Frisco moved to Pennsylvania to form a band for Clyde Stacy. When Stacy retired in 1959, Frisco became lead singer for the band, The Four Flames, recording a Columbia Harmony album in New York entitled The Big Ten, as "Rocky Curtiss and the Harmony Flames." Frisco performed voice work for radio and television commercials, most recently for Chris Nikel and Nelson Mazda in the Tulsa area.

During the mid-1960s, Frisco, disgusted with the music business after having thousands of dollars in royalties embezzled by an A & R man he trusted, quit playing, moved to Ontario, Canada, and worked for IBM and raced MG's and Mini Coopers at Harewood Acres and Mosport. He drove a Morris Mini in the preliminary races for the 1967 Canadian Grand Prix, reverting to the name, Don Joseph. In 1972, Frisco returned to Tulsa and started playing again, first with the Don White Band and then with the John D. LeVan Band. In the years since, he played with Bill David, Gus Hardin, Tommy Overstreet and others.

Frisco rejoined Cale's band in 1994, and toured the United States and Europe that summer and fall, with TV broadcasts from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Cale's 1996 tour included a concert on March 29 at Carnegie Hall with The Band. Frisco can be heard on the Cale CDs J. J. Cale Live, To Tulsa And Back, and Roll On. He wrote and sang 'The Pursuit of Happiness (Rocky Frisco) as well as Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD set and the J. J. Cale Band's DVD tour video for To Tulsa and Back.[4]

In May 2008, Frisco was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame with a lifetime achievement award. On September 17, 2009, Frisco was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame as a winner of the Eldon Shamblin Session Musician Award.[5] In April 2012, Frisco received the Bare Bones Film Festival's "Living Legend" Award.


Bands and artists Frisco played and recorded with:

  • Steve Pryor
  • Empty Pockets
  • Brad Absher
  • Tom Skinner's Science Project
  • Larry Spears
  • Susan Herndon
  • Lata Gouveia
  • Dustin Pittsley
  • Jesse Aycock
  • J. J. Cale
  • Dustin and Jesse's Higher Education
  • The Kevin Phariss Band
  • Rodney Lay
  • Widespread Panic
  • Dennis Crouch
  • Blazon Pearl
  • Snuggle Naked
  • Li'l Tee
  • The Formerly Withs
  • The Dylan Whitney Band

Tex Waggoner Bass Player


Frisco occasionally appeared in films and videos. He can be seen in the short film, Melvin, A Midwestern Tale, and in the 2003 Disney remake of Where the Red Fern Grows [6] Frisco also appeared in Lata Gouveia's documentary: Red Dirt: Songs from the Dust. In July 2011, Frisco appeared in a full-length feature: Red Dirt on 66: A Road Movie.

Personal life and politics[edit]

Rocky, known among friends as the "Roxster," was a talented song-writer and novelist, whose published and un-published works remain an insightful representation of his unique, on-going study of life. His broad interests extended to restoring English Austin and Morris Mini Coopers and MGs, and work as a general mechanic, repairing a wide variety of vehicles to supplement his income as a musician. He was also a great fan of Terry Pratchett, reflected by the fact that his personal Mini Cooper was nicknamed "The luggage". He was also an accomplished silversmith and stone cutter, producing a professional collection of refined artisan jewelry ranging from pendants to belt-buckles. Frisco was outspoken in his views of life, and was an occasional candidate for political office in Tulsa.[7][8]



  1. ^ Jennifer Chancellor, "Now hear this: Tulsa Sound stalwart Rocky Frisco keeps the music coming", Tulsa World, December 28, 2007.
  2. ^ "Tulsa musician Rocky Frisco has died". Tulsa World.
  3. ^ a b Curtis Killman, "Musician A Candidate For Council", Tulsa World, December 13, 1997.
  4. ^ IMDb, "Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival", Crossroads Guitar Festival, October 2004.
  5. ^ "Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame 2009 Inductees" Archived 2010-02-07 at the Wayback Machine, Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, February 21, 2010.
  6. ^ IMDb, "Where the Red Fern Grows", Where the Red Fern Grows , 2003.
  7. ^ Brian Barber, "Five candidates compete for District 4 seat", Tulsa World, February 24, 2008.
  8. ^ Rocky Frisco, "political questionnaire", Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, July 23, 2009.

External links[edit]