On the road for the finale, 2022: Steve Mackey, Rob Arthur, Frampton, Dan Wojciechowski and Adam Lester
❚ SIXTIES ACE FACE and prolific British guitarist and composer Peter Frampton arrives this weekend in the UK for Finale, the Farewell Tour which includes the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday, postponed from 2020 by the Covid lockdown. A degenerative muscle disorder means that, at the age of 72, he will be seated on stage during his final European performances. “Standing,” he told GuitarWorld.com, “would be dangerous for me now, because I get so carried away when I’m playing that I’m liable to fall over.”
Having gone to high school in Bromley with David Bowie where they fronted rival bands, Frampton became the lead singer and guitarist in The Herd, his good looks being celebrated on the cover of the trendy Rave! magazine as The Face of ’68. He then formed Humble Pie with Mod “little” Stevie Marriott from the Small Faces. Major international success came as a solo artist in 1976 with the block-busting live album, Frampton Comes Alive!, from which came the self-penned arena rock singles Show Me The Way, Baby I Love Your Way and Do You Feel Like We Do. The album stayed for 55 weeks in the Billboard top 40 as the top-selling album of that year.
Stardom: 1968, Rave! magazine cover as The Face of ’68… and 1976, Frampton Comes Alive! to sell 17 million copies
Platinum albums and a Grammy award have proved his talent as a survivor, working with Jerry Lee Lewis, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bill Wyman, David Bowie, BB King and many more legends. Rolling Stone named him its Artist of the Year, claiming that Frampton “was loved by teenage girls, and their older brothers” and in its 2012 poll of all-time favourite live albums, FCA! was voted No 3. In 1979, Frampton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2021 he released the instrumental album Frampton Forgets the Words, the second since announcing his retirement. The Finale tour embarked on its American-Canadian dates before lockdown – “The most moving tour I’ve ever done,” Frampton told Guitar World. “It’s very emotional for me saying goodbye to anybody, let alone ten thousand people a night.” Now he’s braced for Stoke, Glasgow and London: “My band and I have been chomping at the bit to play and can’t wait to keep our promise to play for you again.”
Frampton then and now: the 1976 gatefold sleeve shot for Frampton Comes Alive! by Richard Aaron... and earlier this year playing live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, photographed by Wenn... Both pictures are united by Frampton’s signature guitar, the solidbody “Black Beauty” 1954 Les Paul Custom, which was re-finished with three pickups by the Gibson factory in 1970. In fact the original Black Beauty (left) was lost in a 1980 cargo plane crash, after which Gibson’s crafted another guitar in the image of the 1954 Les Paul Custom but with a slim-carved neck profile for optimum speed plus ebony black finish (above right)
❚ 35 YEARS AGO BRITISH-BORN GUITARIST Peter Frampton was a rock god, given two Rolling Stone covers within months of each other, the second declaring him Rock Star of the Year. His appeal has evidently been reignited by this year’s 35th anniversary world tour of his multi-platinum album Frampton Comes Alive!, drenched as it always was with West Coast sunshine. The “better than ever” tour has been extended from this Friday with extra dates in the UK and Europe, and yet more in the US from February. There is no support and the show runs for three hours. FCA! is the first set, including a 14-minute arrangement of Do You Feel Like We Do to re-create his epic stadium concerts of 1976. The second half features newer work, but also earlier numbers that resulted from forming the supergroup Humble Pie with “little” Stevie Marriott of the Small Faces in 1969.
Cover star: in April 1976 Frampton Comes Alive! won him the cover of Rolling Stone. Afterwards, he feared the shirtless photo by Francesco Scavullo “turned me into a pop idol” and would reduce his career to 18 months... Fortunately by the following February he was photographed by Annie Liebovitz as Rock Star of the Year
It has taken this comeback to remind us, or for most of us to reveal, that Frampton learned to play the rock classics at the feet of another Beckenham boy, David Bowie, when they were students together in south London.
➢ The Bowiezone website supplies these (and other) childhood details: “ [Frampton] first became interested in music when he was seven years old. Upon discovering his grandmother’s banjolele (a banjo-shaped ukulele) in the attic, he taught himself to play, and later taught himself to play guitar and piano as well. At the age of eight he started taking classical music lessons.
Both he and David Bowie were pupils at Bromley Technical High School where Frampton’s father, Owen Frampton, was head of the art department. The Little Ravens played on the same bill at school as Bowie’s band, George and the Dragons. Peter and David would spend time together at lunch breaks, playing Buddy Holly songs.
At the age of 11, Peter was playing with a band called The Trubeats followed by a band called The Preachers, produced and managed by Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. He became a successful child singer, and in 1966, he became a member of The Herd, scoring a handful of British pop hits. Frampton was named The Face of 1968 by teen magazine Rave!. ”
“ I got to know [Bowie] when I was 12 and he was 14, 15, maybe. I said, ‘What music do you like right now?’ He said, ‘Buddy Holly.’ I said, ‘Teach me that.’ I remember sitting on the stairs at lunchtime with two guitars and him and George Underwood — who became the artist who did the covers of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane — and the three of us would hang out and play Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly numbers.”
While in school, Frampton became lead singer and guitarist of the Herd. In 1969, he formed Humble Pie with Steve Marriott of the Small Faces and also did session work on albums, including George Harrison’s classic All Things Must Pass. After five LPs with Humble Pie, he went solo in 1971. ”
Bowie and Frampton in New York rehearsing for the Glass Spider Tour, 1987: Peter contributed to the album Never Let Me Down, Bowie’s follow-up to Let’s Dance, then played lead guitar on tour. Photograph by David McGough
The Bowie connection was rekindled in 1987 when Frampton was hired to play on the Never Let Me Down album and then as lead guitarist for that year’s Glass Spider Tour. Echoes of Bowie can often be heard in Frampton’s own vocals, especially his acoustic version of Baby I Love Your Way — shown below in impressive footage recently released from promoter Bill Graham’s archive.
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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
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