Alabama Songwriter and Musician Donnie Fritts Dead at 76
Donnie Fritts, a legendary songwriter and musician, has died. The Florence, Ala., native passed away in his sleep on Tuesday night (Aug. 27), at the age of 76.
"We're heartbroken to let y'all know that Funky Donnie Fritts, the elegant Alabama Leaning Man, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night after a lengthy battle with health issues," reads a Facebook post announcing Fritts' death. "Heaven just got a whole lotta funkier ... 'cause wherever Donnie goes, there's sumpin' funky going on!"
Born in Florence in November 1942, Fritts started his music career as a teenager, playing drums in local bands, Rolling Stone reports. He worked with FAME Studios owner Rick Hall, among other Muscle Shoals mainstays before signing with a Nashville publishing company in 1965. Thanks to that deal, dozens of artists -- including Dolly Parton, John Prine and many more -- cut his songs.
Although he began on drums, Fritts became a sought-after session keyboard player, and was a member of Kris Kristofferson's band for decades. As a solo artist, he recorded five albums, including the Kristofferson-co-produced Prone to Lean in 1974; his 2015 record Oh My Goodness features, among others, Prine, Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell, and was produced by John Paul White.
Fritts also did some acting, including in the 1976 version of A Star Is Born, which starred Kristofferson. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
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