Peter Frampton celebrates the 35th anniversary of “Frampton Comes Alive!” with a mega-tour ending in Paris next November. The instrumentalist, singer and producer has jam-packed the program with favorite numbers from one of the top-selling live albums of all time and highlights from his extensive repertoire.
When his “Fingerprints” won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album, it put him back into peoples' minds as the guy with the frizzy hair and the looker, which he confesses he is not today. Never mindless, a pop career lies about 18 months, while a musician's career lasts a lifetime.
The title song of Frampton's latest album, “Thank You Mr. Churchill,” conjures up his childhood memories in suburban London when the city vibrated with the sounds of construction workers rebuilding the homes, offices and landmarks reduced to rubble by German bombs. He recalls the safe, peaceful atmosphere that allowed a five-year-old to wander up the road and chat with the workmen.
Soon afterwards, while investigating the attic, he found his grandmother's banjolele and tought himself to play. “Vaudeville Nanna and the Banjolele,” another album surprise, revisits that happy discovery. By eight, he had taught himself to play guitar and piano and was taking classical music lessons. Graduating from one band to another, he segued from child singer to lead guitarist and singer at age 15 with The Herd. Three years later, he and Steve Marriott formed Humble Pie.
Humble Pie enjoyed great success in England and Europe before it came to America. When it proved to be equally popular here, Frampton took the plunge and moved to the United States in 1971. He now makes his home in Cincinnati. After 9/11, he became an American citizen. His recent appearances on “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and Oprah's TV show have endeared him to a new generation.
Over the years, his life and work intertwined with many contemporaries, among them Marriott, David Bowie (his child classmate and fellow Buddy Holly fan), and Hank Marvin, probably the most influential of all. Bassist Stanley Sheldon, who played on “Frampton Comes Alive,” is a member of his tour band, along with Rob Arthur on keyboard, guitar and vocals, Adam Lester on guitar, and Dan Wojciechowski on drums.
These are people he wants to spend time with. They're only on stage a short while, but they're together a long time on the bus or plane.
Julian Frampton, his son, is a surprise soloist on “Road to the Sun.” The response to that number has been so positive that they recently recorded together, Julian on drums and guitar, Peter on guitar and bass. Dubbing will be done in hotel rooms during this tour. One tour highlight is his arrangement with Abbey Road to create CDs of each show for distribution to the audience. He was guided when Abbey Road proposed this idea. To make it happen, they'll travel with the tour and will record each number, three CDs in all because it's a long show. They'll begin pressing them half way through the evening. By the end of the show, all three will be ready for the fans to take home.