A tribute to Frank Owens

Volume 123, No. 10November, 2023

Frank Owens, 90, a pianist and an arranger, died on Sept. 16, 2023. He had been a member of Local 802 since 1952. Frank’s family has set up a tribute and fundraising page, and Broadway World also published a tribute. Below, former Local 802 member Scott Schreer remembers his friend Frank.

As a studio musician, composer and producer, I knew and worked with Frank throughout the 80’s and 90’s. I got to work with Frank from both sides of the glass. A more talented musician, or nicer person I never met. He had an amazing smile and always made me feel good about my music, my playing and production chops. Always very positive, always a kind word. Whenever he played, whatever he played he played it from his soul. Among the many jingles I composed in the 80’s, one was for Friendly’s, the national restaurant chain. The hook line was “We’re gonna show you just what friendly means.” I wrote an upbeat, feel-good shuffle and Frank was booked as the keyboard player on the date. Frank must have really liked that jingle because nearly every time I ran into him in the studio for years after that session, Frank would sit down at the piano and start playing my Friendly’s jingle in a stride piano, Joplin style, He’d turn around and smile at me as he played, filling up the room with that wonderful energy and infectious smile of his. I’ll never forget Frank, his superhuman talent, and of course that amazing smile. The music world lost a great one. Rest in peace, Frank.

— Scott Schreer
NJJ Music