A Sixpack of Peter Frampton – Going Out Screaming

“If I’m going to do a farewell tour, I want to play good. I want to rock it. I know that this tour, I will be able to do everything I did last year and the year before. That’s the most important thing to me. I want to go out screaming as opposed to, “He can’t play anymore.” – Peter Frampton on his farewell tour.

It seems lately that I’ve been on a guitarist kick, having first done Les Paul then Roy Buchanan. It wasn’t at all my intention to do another one. But then I heard on CNN that Peter Frampton was doing his finale tour. Sure, we’ve heard it all before from everyone from Cher to The Who. But this time it may really be true. Frampton has been diagnosed with a progressive muscle disorder called Inclusion-Body Myositis. (IBM).

It is “characterized by muscle inflammation, weakness, and atrophy. IBM develops in adulthood, usually after age 50. The symptoms and rate of progression vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include progressive weakness of the legs, arms, fingers, and wrists. Some people also have weakness of the facial muscles (especially muscles controlling eye closure), or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Muscle cramping and pain are uncommon but have been reported in some people.”

According to an article in Rolling Stone, “Then it was revealed to me that it wouldn’t just affect my legs and my arms, but it’s going to affect my fingers. That was the most troubling thing, obviously, for me.” He is still able to play guitar without any difficulty, but with the window now beginning to possibly close forever, he booked a farewell tour that will keep him on the road this summer and possibly a bit longer.”

Frampton said in a CNN interview that (smart man) he’s working on four different albums, the first of which – a blues album – will be released in June of this year.

A little history is in order: Frampton was born in 1950 in Bromley, Kent, England, yet another of that seemingly endless generation of great British guitarists. His influences were Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and Belgian gypsy Django Reinhardt. I think I mentioned the following tidbit before but it bears repeating:

Wikipedia: Both Frampton and David Bowie, who was three years older, were pupils at Bromley Technical School (where his father Owen Frampton was Bowie’s art instructor). Frampton’s band, The Little Ravens played on the same bill at school as Bowie’s band, George and the Dragons. Peter and David would spend lunch breaks together, playing Buddy Holly songs.

When he was 18 Frampton joined forces with Steve Marriott to form the mighty, mighty Humble Pie. I saw the Pie back in the day and Frampton would have been in the band. But I am 100% certain his name didn’t register with me at the time.

I decided if I was gonna do a Frampton six-pack I had to throw in at least one Humble Pie tune with Frampton on lead guitar. This is a cool Marriott song called “Silver Tongue” from the album Town and Country.

Spotify link

Frampton left Humble Pie in 1971 just in time to watch the band’s fortunes rise. As I mentioned in my post on British blues, “Frampton had by then left the band and said it was one of the worst years of his life watching that album’s success while he was on the outside looking in.”

Frampton released four studio albums in the early ’70s and for the life of me, I don’t recall him having much, if any, impact. He was doing some nice, tuneful stuff and building a fan base but I don’t recall a lot of it being on the radio. Could just be my flawed memory, who knows?

But in looking back it’s clear to see that while still very much the rocker, he was drifting away from the hard-rock boogie of Humble Pie and more into a melodic singer/songwriter mode. There’s even quite a bit of acoustic guitar on his debut album Wind of Change.

But I dig this song from that album called “Alright” which has a distinct early Steve Miller Band feel to it:

Spotify link

By 1975, Frampton’s unique style of melodic pop with exquisite guitar solos and his distinctive voice were really starting to gell. In that year he released his fourth studio album Frampton which portrayed him in a trio setting. To my knowledge this was the first time he utilized the talkbox which he helped to popularize.

From that album here’s a nice tune called “Apple of Your Eye.” This is a good tune that puts all the pieces of the Frampton phenomenon-to-be together:

Spotify link

Whatever fame and fortune Pete missed by not sticking around for Humble Pie’s live album he more than made up for in 1976 with the release of the then-inescapable Frampton Comes Alive! If you weren’t around then or were living in a cave, this fucking thing was all over the radio. Stats?

The album was on the Billboard 200 for 97 weeks, of which 55 were in the top 40, of which 10 were at the top. The album beat, among others, Fleetwood Mac’s Fleetwood Mac to become the top-selling album of 1976, and it was also the 14th best seller of 1977. With sales of eight million copies, it became the biggest selling live album, although with others subsequently selling more it is now the fourth biggest. Frampton Comes Alive! has been certified as eight times platinum

Largely recorded at San Francisco’s Winterland in front of a rabid audience, Frampton’s slow-build patience had borne fruit. if you hadn’t heard these songs before, well, you did now. And still do. They have become staples of classic rock radio to the extent that they practically define it. Here are “Show Me the Way,” and “Baby I Love Your Way.” Frampton was miles away from Humble Pie:

Spotify link

Spotify link

Frampton was BIG and made a couple of regrettable mistakes. For one thing, he posed shirtless for Rolling Stone which made him seem more like David fucking Cassidy and less like a rock star. For another, he starred in one of the most egregious pieces of shit ever made, the filmed equivalent of “Sometimes When We Touch,” the Sgt. Pepper movie. This thing could have been done better by any average high school marching band, three random people off the street and a couple of cheerleaders.

Since it didn’t sell 8 billion copies, Frampton’s next album “didn’t live up to expectations,” then he later got into a car accident, his career took a nosedive, yadda, yadda, yadda.

“The ’80s were a difficult period for me,” Frampton told M Magazine. “It wasn’t until my dear friend David Bowie got me out on the road for the ‘Glass Spider’ tour and on his Never Let Me Down record and reintroduced me as a guitar player around the world. I can never thank him enough for believing in me, and seeing past the image of the satin pants and big hair to the guitar player he first met when we played together in school.”

Frampton got back together with old chum Steve Marriott in 1991 for a few gigs. Alas Marriott died that year in a house fire which sent Peter into a tailspin

Frampton over the years has continued playing and recording in various configurations over the years but could never again quite catch that lightning in a bottle. And then this shit happened.

For the sixth tune, I’d kinda hoped they’d sneak one of the new blues tunes out there somewhere. And sure enough, they did. It’s a nice simmering version of “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” featuring Kim Wilson of Fabulous Thunderbirds on harp.

Spotify link

Thanks for the good times, Peter. Keep the faith.

 

29 thoughts on “A Sixpack of Peter Frampton – Going Out Screaming

    1. You have a gift for honing in on exactly the least important non-point of a post. My Grand Canyon post? One of the world’s most significant natural wonders? The sound of my voice. A post on how Peter Frampton is dealing with a career-ending disease? Frampton’s father was Bowie’s art teacher.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Good stuff, Jim. The thought of having a progressive muscle-weakening disease must be pretty frightening for any person, but for a musician it sounds like an outright nightmare. Kudos to Peter Frampton for speaking out about it. And, as hard as I imagine it must be, I think he made the right decision to bow out gracefully with this farewell tour.

    I mostly know Peter Frampton from “Frampton Comes Alive!” While some of these songs have been overexposed, I like the music. He definitely is a great guitarist who had an ear for catchy rock songs. Since I haven’t seen Frampton, I considered catching him on his farewell tour. But I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan, so in the end I decided to pass.

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    1. Yeah, there’s a reason in one of his songs Paul Simon says “thankin’ the Lord for my fingers.” The good news I suppose is that he should hopefully still be able to be a mentor and perhaps even a producer.

      As to seeing him, you know that I’ve somewhat “retired” from live shows. And yet I still considered seeing him for old times’ sake. But your second paragraph sums up my feelings exactly.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I like all of it but yeas, I’m kinda sick of those hits. But you can’t avoid them. But it’s not just Frampton by any means. There are a lot of songs I’ve been listening to for a long time that I can’t listen to any more. Subject of another post.

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      1. I want to read that post. No. Not to pick on Pete but so much of that stuff from that time was over played and so much of it I just didn’t dig. I think disco was in it’s heyday. Didn’t that movie you spoke so highly about have the Bee Gees in it? Someone like Framton who had the chops just made a decision to go a different creative way. Financially it was a great choice for him.
        That music from that time gave people a lot of pleasure. I was finding my listening other places. I’m already guessing at some of the tunes you have in mind. Any from a band that has a bird name?

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        1. CB, you’re not picking on me! I completely agree with you. Like I said in my Mark Hollis post, my era was the mid-60s thru mid-70s. Jim can weigh in on this, but around ’75 or ’76 here in the states, free-form rock radio (when FM deejays had independence, as well as taste), began a decline. “Frampton Comes Alive” came out in 1976, and it was part of a crop of “arena rock” songs (think Boston, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Journey, etc.) outrageously overplayed on radio. Frampton had three songs from that album in regular rotation! Big Business had by then sank its last few claws into the music, and it’s been practically downhill ever since (at least, re commercial rock radio and the charts).

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        2. I should quality one thing. At the risk of sounding provincial, I kinda liked Boston. Arena rock? Sure, the very definition. But some good stuff. Foreigner and Journey had a couple good tunes, not a big fan of either. Ditto REO Speedwagon.

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        3. We’re all guilty of having guilty pleasures. There are one or two songs off Journey’s “Next” album that I like (when Gregg Rolie was lead singer).

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        4. Heh! I don’t even consider those true guilty pleasures. Guilty pleasures are, IMHO, when we let down our hipster pose admit to liking songs like “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” or “Brandy.” Whaddya think? Great idea for a post?

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        5. “Whaddya think?” Well, I’d feel guilty about liking Boston…but that’s just me!
          “Great idea for a post?” Yes, and I look forward to sharing my dirty laundry!

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        6. Total honesty applies! Truth serum. I look forward to finding out that “Sometimes When We Touch” is actually your all-time favorite song and you’ve been deflecting this whole time. {snort}

          Liked by 1 person

        7. I mean’t picking on Pete Framton not greenpete. I agree on your comment, completely. Not only overplayed but not CB’s style in the least. So much other music.
          Back then is when I quit listening to FM radio for exactly the reasons you noted. I would find some good stations late at night with great DJs that were still spinning it old school and playing music that was off the dial.
          I really like those old FM days when DJ’s would forget to turn the record over and you’d get radio silence for half an hour. Or a skip for the same amount of time. Bottom line is I heard some very cool music back then. We’ll see what Doc comes up with. I usually don’t waste time with stuff that i don’t dig but I do enjoy some of the comments.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. So sad to hear about his disease. My old neighbor. (He lived here in Cincy for a long time.) He did a lot of work for Democratic candidates here, pissing off a lot of the local Republicans, which is always good. Politics aside, one of the real decent guys in music, and a deceptively talented guitarist.

    Also, I’m glad you were able to (somehow) inject our old friend Dan Hill here.

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    1. I don’t remember that at all. I have to watch that flick again. I’ve read that the lead character was either based on Dickey Betts, Glenn Frey or some combination of the two.

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    1. Where does Clark of Kent fit into that picture? Tell me oh sage, are Bowie and Frampton part of that noble outstanding line of Men of Kent? Or are they those Kentish Men wankers?

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      1. You know I’m not sure, these days you tend to think of Bromley as more edge of London than Kent… kinda like Sidcup (John Paul Jones). I think Mick and Keith are Men of Kent. I’d suggest Kate Bush is a Loony of Kent rather than Kentish Loon

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        1. Well, that explains quite a bit about you lot. BTW, I can’t recall if I mentioned this before but outside of your rock fan of a certain age, Kate Bush is virtually unknown here. Or I should say, certainly not the level of notoriety she has over there.

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        2. I think that’s probably down to her reticence to tour extensively back in the day and the fact that she pretty much called it a day after The Red Shoes in ‘93. Did you know she was ‘discovered’ by David Gilmour?

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