This Day In Music 22.04.2016
Peter Frampton grew up in Bromley, England, a suburb of London on April 22nd 1950. His father Owen was head of the art department at Bromley Technical High School, so music was in the family. David Bowie, 3 years older than Frampton, also attended this school and was taught by Owen.
When Peter was 7 he discovered a banjole (a banjo shaped ukelele) in his grandmother's attic and taught himself to play. He later taught himself piano and guitar before being enrolled in classical music lessons.
Dropping out of high school to join The Herd, they enjoyed some success in the UK in 1966-67. By 1969 he had formed Humble Pie with Steve Marriott from the Small Faces and they enjoyed some success. He also did session work for other artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Nilsson and a solo album by John Entwhistle from The Who. During sessions for George Harrison's “All Things Must Pass” he was introduced to the “talk box” which would later become one of his trademark guitar effects.
After recording 4 albums with Humble Pie, Frampton went solo. Despite help from big names like Billy Preston and Ringo Starr, not much happened. But he toured incessantly and formed a band he called Frampton's Camel. The band didn't last very long, and Frampton became a true solo artist, releasing “Frampton” which gave him his first taste of success in America, reaching the Top 40. Frampton includes studio version of the classics “Show Me The Way”, “Baby I Love Your Way” and “Penny For Your Thoughts”.
But it was the following live release Frampton Comes Alive! That really made Frampton a bonafide rock star. By then he had developed into a top concert draw, and on those nights at San Francisco's Winterland, everything came together. There was energy, tasty guitar, hooks, and of course, his talk box. Frampton Comes Alive! has sold 18 million copies worldwide, at the time the highest selling live album. It charted for nearly 2 years, and a lot of young girls had posters of Frampton on their bedroom walls. Rolling Stone Magazine named him artist of the year.
Under pressure from his record label to strike again while the iron was hot. Frampton quickly released the uneven I'm In You which reached #2 in 1977 on the strength of the title track. After the success of Comes Alive, the album was still seen as somewhat of a disappointment overall.
1978 proved to be a disastrous year for Frampton. He made his big screen debut as Billy Shears in the awful film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (the only good thing about this film is Aerosmith's Come Together). In June he was involved in a near-fatal car crash in the Bahamas. A concussion, multiple broken bones and muscle damage sidelined him. And to top it off his longtime girlfriend left him. He recovered from his accident only to slide into drug abuse. The wind was knocked out of his sails.
As the 80's dawned, Frampton seemed directionless and through the decade released one flop after another. He did get some radio airplay with Lyin' from Premonition in 1986. And he was still invited to play guitar with other artists, notably on David Bowie's Never Let Me Down album Glass Spider tour. He was planning a reunion with Steve Marriott, performing a few concerts and recording some tracks, but those plans ended with Marriott's tragic death in a house fire.
He kept recording solo albums in the 90's, never reaching his earlier success. He toured with Bill Wyman & the Rhythm Kings and with Ringo's All-Starr Band. In 2004 he released Now, his first new album in 9 years. It was followed in 2006 by Fingerprints, which won the Grammy Award For Pop Instrumental album of the Year. In 2010 he released his 14th LP Thank You Mr Churchill and toured North American stadiums with Yes before embarking on the Frampton Comes Alive 35th Anniversary Tour.
Taking a cue from Ringo's All-Starr Band, in 2013 Frampton hit the road with Frampton's Guitar Circus, featuring a cast of rotating guitarists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Rick Derringer, Roger McGuinn, B.B. King, Dean DeLeo and many others.
Most recently in 2015, he announced Acoustic Sessions and in January 2016 released a version of Do You Feel Like We Do.
Frampton is a strict vegetarian and currently resides in Nashville. He is now a U.S. Citizen.
Off Rock contributor Mike Lang is a life long rock radio presenter. His older sisters had Frampton posters on their bedroom walls. @theemikelang