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Donnie Fritts
Birth name Donald Ray Fritts
Born (1942-11-08)November 8, 1942
Florence, Alabama, U.S.
Died August 27, 2019(2019-08-27) (aged 76)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation(s) Session musician, songwriter
Instruments Keyboard
Associated acts Kris Kristofferson

Donald Ray Fritts (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.

Early career

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.

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

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.

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 appearing in other movies including A Star Is Born and Songwriter.

Recording artist

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. In 2015, he signed with Single Lock Records.

Death

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

Discography

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

Chart songs as a songwriter

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 1969
"Breakfast in Bed" UB40 featuring Chrissie Hynde 8 1988
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