What if Peter Frampton wasn’t that doe-eyed beauty with the curly blonde hair? Would he still have rocketed to stardom and been the poster boy of my youth?
Yes. Hell yes. Because my teen crush, now long past qualifying for an AARP card, would have put himself on the musical map because frankly, he was already there. His looks (the unbuttoned shirt with the silk pants didn’t hurt that image) sent him into the bopper stratosphere, but he was an established and respected musician before the release of Comes Alive! We loved him for being adorable but in the 1970s, he already had a fan base that respected his mad skills and didn’t give a sh*t about his appearance.
Most American girls didn’t know about The Herd and Humble Pie, which is a shame, but hey, those of us who looked beyond the face and really listened to the music discovered those beginnings at some point in our fandom. And for those of us who didn’t, you can now learn about those roots in Do You Feel Like I Do? It’s a great autobiography because it’s written just like Frampton speaks; it feels like you are having a conversation and it’s really engaging. (I finished it in one weekend because of its readability.)
Just like almost every other story I’ve read about the scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Frampton’s connection to the other up-and-comers of the time began in his youth. For one, he and Bowie were childhood classmates, a relationship that endured until Bowie’s death. From a relatively early age, Frampton earned a reputation for being a phenomenal guitar player and jammed with many a talent, including Ringo, the other Peter (Townsend), Mick. . . the list goes on and on. So that whole thing about being beautiful? Well, he was pretty fantastic beforehand.
Once he went solo and recorded the live album, things definitely took a turn. It’s when I discovered his music and his stop at the Miami Baseball Stadium in 1977 was my initiation into the concert world. I’ve never forgotten it. I fell in love with a dot on a stage (this was well before giant TV screens), just like every other female my age. And that’s when Frampton’s career went sideways. Too much focus on pretty and not enough on the music. The talk box was genius, but sex sells, and the rest is history.
Because the man had a good head on his shoulders, thanks in part to his WWII veteran parents who taught him perseverance, Frampton found his way back to himself and forged ahead. Winning his second Grammy for instrumental work 30 years after the “other” one, he reminded the world that he was way more than a beauty. The blonde hair is long gone but dammit, he’s still pretty cute! You know how I know? A little over a year ago, I made sure I got to see the farewell tour. The nostalgia factor was there of course, and I cried when the show was over. I will always love this man, with or without his hair!
As you may have heard, Frampton has a degenerative muscle disease and isn’t sure how much longer he will be able to play. He’s making the most of it though and had COVID not reared its ugly head, he’d still be on the tour. So, if it comes back around, make sure you get a ticket.
In the meantime, pick up the book. There are some great stories to be read, like the story of the Phenix guitar that literally rose from the ashes. Just like its owner.