The secret to any musical artist’s longevity is a commitment to creativity and experimentation that takes a man beyond hit records, out of his comfort zone, and into uncharted territory.
During the process of doubts and disappointment, highs and lows, something new and extraordinary emerges and the world is better for it. Peter Frampton is that artist — part genius, part musical mad scientist. He’s always challenging himself, cross-pollinating genres for cool sounds, techniques and projects. Unafraid of what the outcome might be. Which explains why the ’70s rocker had huge success with hits such as “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Do You Feel Like We Do,” and “I’m in You” — songs that remain staples on classic-rock radio to this day.
But there’s so much more to Frampton than hit songs from the ’70s.
The English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and solo artist has worked with a variety of fellow artists and groups throughout his career, including Humble Pie and The Herd. He befriended David Bowie at the age of 12, when they were school mates at Bromley Technical School. They’d play Buddy Holly songs on lunch breaks.
That this ’70s rock icon continues to reinvent himself, garnering public acclaim, speaks volumes about Frampton’s unbridled talent. Let’s be honest, it would be difficult to top Frampton Comes Alive, no matter the era. But the rocker has done that frequently in the last several years.
Frampton teamed up with Gordon Kennedy and released his Fingerprints album in 2006 and earned a 2007 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, a feat Frampton was quite proud of. Frampton’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
In January, Frampton reissued the album on vinyl via his own imprint, Phenix Phonograph. Frampton is particularly fond of the project because it represents his undeniable talent as a musician rather than a vocalist.
“It’s not the Peter Frampton of Frampton Comes Alive, it’s the Peter Frampton the guitar player,” he said. “It’s the first thing I’ve done in my career that sets itself apart—and me for the first time—from Frampton Comes Alive.
The album is co-produced with Gordon Kennedy, who also co-wrote most of the tracks.
“The only track not self-written was ‘Black Hole Sun,’” which was released by Soundgarden in 1994. “Everything else was written for the album.”
He couldn’t help but be pleased and proud of the finished product.
“It’s probably one of the first times in a long time that something I did reminded me of my first album, Winds of Change — there was no bar, there were no expectations,” he said. “I didn’t think about anything but what would make me feel good about working with this person or that person. I had a great sense of achievement at the end but there are always things you wish you could change. Lets just say, in general, there was the least amount of change necessary in this one.”
The Grammy win was just icing on the cake.
“You always put out that awards aren’t that important....‘I don’t need one of those’... But, when you get one, it’s a very nice feeling and it’s very humbling. The idea that people you admire are voting for you respect your work — it’s a wonderful feeling.”
Frampton’s most recent album, Acoustic Classics was recorded in 2016, yet continues to receive widespread critical acclaim.
According to Guitar Player, “Frampton’s playing flows fluently throughout and the variety of exquisite tones keeps the journey interesting”—kind of like the man himself. There’s nothing ever boring about this guy’s musical road trip.
With the songs everyone knows is a new piece called “All Down to Me,” which was co-written by Gordon Kennedy.
When Frampton returns to Laughlin, he’ll have plenty of songs to share with his devoted fans.
“The show will contain songs and tunes from all areas of my career,” he said. “It will be a veritable perspective, if you like.”
Frampton released a new song and video this year for his self-penned “I Saved A Bird Today.” The video, which premiered on NPR Music, was created by dreambear Production Company, and animators Antonio Corral and Manuel Casares.
‘I Saved A Bird Today’ is a true story about Frampton saving a large American coot, who flew into his window and knocked herself out.
“With expert advice, I brought her back to life. After learning that coots only take off from water, I had to ‘take her to the river.’ She jumped into the river as I watched her walk, then run atop the water, until she finally took off into the city-lit night sky,” Frampton said.
Dreambear made an incredible animation of this true story about saving a bird’s life.
″‘To care for one another is the reason we are here’ is the lyric that sums it up for me,” Frampton said. “The world has gone mad and the simple things like love, compassion and caring have been overshadowed by hate and greed. This video shows how important we are to each other whilst showing how much worse things could get if we are not careful of each other and the planet where we live.”
Is retirement on the horizon? Probably not.
“I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” he said. “I think George Burns had the right idea. I’m not sure about all those women and cigars, I think they were all for publicity — well, not the cigars, they were real.”
Burns booked the London Palladium for his 100th birthday. He made it to the birthday but he couldn’t make the show.
“I think longevity for a performer is to keep touring,” Frampton said. “We’re going out there and the audiences we’ve had, I’ve got to say, are bigger than ever before. We’re selling out everywhere we go. And, they go berserk when we do the instrumental stuff. We do about 15 minutes of that and it goes down as well as the older classics, which is very rewarding.”