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Peter Frampton

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 22, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kent, England, GB Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the biggest stars in pop music during the 1970s, Peter Frampton was a singer and guitarist who soared to the heights of the business with his 1976 release, Frampton Comes Alive!. He had come to solo fame after well-regarded stints with The Herd and Humble Pie in his native England, but neither experience could match the pop culture juggernaut that was Alive!, which sold 16 million copies on the strength of listener-friendly rock ballads like "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Show Me the Way." An accomplishment of such magnitude generated pressure for an even greater follow-up that Frampton was unable to provide, and after a series of high-profile missteps, including an appearance in the ill-fated musical feature "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978), he was persona non grata in the rock business. Frampton would spend much of the next two decades rebuilding his career, which never resumed the heights of the Alive! period, but saw its share of high points, most notably a 2007 Grammy for his instrumental album Fingerprints. Throughout this period, Frampton remained a well-regarded pop craftsman whose love for his chosen medium was reflected in every release.Born Peter Kenneth Frampton on...

One of the biggest stars in pop music during the 1970s, Peter Frampton was a singer and guitarist who soared to the heights of the business with his 1976 release, Frampton Comes Alive!. He had come to solo fame after well-regarded stints with The Herd and Humble Pie in his native England, but neither experience could match the pop culture juggernaut that was Alive!, which sold 16 million copies on the strength of listener-friendly rock ballads like "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Show Me the Way." An accomplishment of such magnitude generated pressure for an even greater follow-up that Frampton was unable to provide, and after a series of high-profile missteps, including an appearance in the ill-fated musical feature "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978), he was persona non grata in the rock business. Frampton would spend much of the next two decades rebuilding his career, which never resumed the heights of the Alive! period, but saw its share of high points, most notably a 2007 Grammy for his instrumental album Fingerprints. Throughout this period, Frampton remained a well-regarded pop craftsman whose love for his chosen medium was reflected in every release.

Born Peter Kenneth Frampton on April 22, 1950 in the town of Beckenham in Kent, England, he was the son of Owen Frampton, a teacher at Bromley Technical High School (now Ravens Wood School), where his son would later be a student. He began exploring music after finding his grandmother's banjoele, or banjo ukelele, which he taught himself to play at the age of seven. He later added guitar and piano to his list of self-taught instruments while receiving an education in early rock-n-roll via the radio and records. American musicians Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly were favorites, as were local heroes The Shadows with guitarist Hank Marvin, and the jazz guitar of Django Reinhardt.

By the time Frampton was 10 years old, he was already playing in bands like the Little Ravens, who shared a bill at Bromley Technical High with George and the Dragons, which featured a school friend, David Jones, who would later become David Bowie. Stints in other bands followed, including The Preachers, who were managed by The Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman and who landed an appearance on the pop music TV series "Ready, Steady, Go" (ITV, 1963-66). In 1965, he joined The Herd, a pop group with elements of the burgeoning psychedelic scene, and soon quit school to devote himself fully to the band. After several failed singles for Parlophone, The Herd landed a hit with 1967's "I Can Fly," which preceded several more Top 20 songs and a choice stint as the opening act for The Jimi Hendrix Experience at a London appearance. Frampton's boyish good looks earned him the label "The Face of '68" by the U.K. press, but he soon tired of his teen idol status and left the band in 1968.

Later that year, he teamed with former Small Faces guitarist Steve Marriott to form Humble Pie, who wielded a heavier rock sound with distinct influences of American R&B. Frampton was a key member of the group during its early phase, when it rose from chart makers in the U.K. with "Natural Born Bugie" (1969) to a popular live act in the United States, where their double LP, Performance Rockin' the Fillmore (1971) broke the Top 40 on the Billboard album chart. During this period, he was also an in-demand session player, with George Harrison's All Things Must Pass (1970) and Harry Nilsson's Son of Schmilsson (1971) among his numerous credits.

Frampton left Humble Pie in 1971 to pursue a solo career, but his initial recorded efforts were met with disinterest, even with the presence of Ringo Starr and Billy Preston on his debut, Wind of Change (1972). In 1973, he formed Frampton's Camel for an eponymous record that featured one of his signature songs, "Do You Feel Like We Do." It too failed to reach a mass audience, but the band soon became a popular live act, thanks in part to relentless touring, but also due to Frampton's penchant for expanding his material into lengthy showcases for his guitar abilities. Frampton soon returned to solo status, finally breaking into the American Top 40 with 1975's Frampton. The album featured a more melodic, pop-friendly sound, as evidenced by such upbeat tracks as "Show Me the Way" and "Baby, I Love Your Way."

In 1975, Frampton toured behind his latest LP, and recorded a live date at San Francisco's Winterland which became his next release, Frampton Comes Alive! To the surprise of many, it became a runaway success, bolstered by three hit singles, including a lengthy take on "Do You Feel Like We Do" that featured Frampton on a "talk box," an effects pedal that allowed one to modify the sound of an instrument by moving their mouth. Frampton Comes Alive! stayed at the top of the charts for 10 weeks and resided there for an additional year and a half, eventually selling over 16 million copies and becoming the fourth biggest selling live album in history. Frampton was soon a ubiquitous presence in 1976, appearing shirtless on the cover of Rolling Stone one week, and at the White House with Gerald Ford another. His status as the biggest rock star of the year was unquestionable.

But, as history has frequently shown, a stratospheric rise to the top is often followed by an even more dramatic plunge. Pressure from A&M to release another album while his popularity was at an all-time peak resulted in the hastily constructed I'm In You (1977), which shot to No. 2 on the strength of the title track, which also rose to No. 2 on the singles chart. But despite this apparent reprise success and the presence of such rock royalty figures as Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Stevie Wonder as guest contributors, most felt that the record's lightweight songs failed to match the electricity of Frampton Comes Alive!. His decision to star opposite the Bee Gees in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978), a deliriously campy, all-star fantasy loosely inspired by the Beatles' album, further marred his reputation, but the coup de grace was delivered by a car accident in the Bahamas that year which nearly killed Frampton and left him not only unable to perform or record for a lengthy period, but saddled with a drug problem brought on during his recovery.

He returned to the studio in 1979 to record Where I Should Be, which generated a Top 20 hit with "I Can't Stand It No More," but the writing was clearly on the wall for Frampton's career. He slumped through the early '80s before disappearing from the business altogether until 1986, when his album Premonition generated a respectable mainstream rock hit with "Lying." He later re-joined his old schoolmate David Bowie for his 1987 album Never Let Me Down, and handled the guitar duties for Bowie's sprawling "Glass Spider" world tour.

The experience of working in a collaborative atmosphere inspired Frampton to re-connect with Steve Marriott for a reunion. After successful shows in England, the pair recorded several tracks and prepared for a tour. However, Marriott pulled out at the last minute, and tragically died in a house fire shortly thereafter. A devastated Frampton returned to his solo career, which saw modest returns into the mid-1990s. There was considerable attention generated by the release of Frampton Comes Alive! II in 1995, but its track listing, comprised mainly of his solo material from the 1980s and 1990s, did not win over fans of his 1976 effort, and it soon disappeared from the charts. Frampton kept busy as a special guest for his old manager, Bill Wyman, as part of his retro-minded Rhythm Kings band, and with Ringo Starr's yearly All-Starr Band tour. In 1999, he appeared in the ill-fated "Blues Brothers 2000," but later served as technical advisor in his friend Cameron Crowe's critically acclaimed "Almost Famous" (2000). Frampton also contributed an amusing cameo as the road manager for his former band, Humble Pie. The new millennium saw Frampton recording and touring at a steady clip. In 2007, he released Fingerprints, an all-instrumental LP that featured childhood idol Hank Marvin as well as members of Pearl Jam. The record earned Frampton his first Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. In 2011, Frampton celebrated the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive! with a well-received world tour that extended into 2012.

By Paul Gaita

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Almost Famous (2000) Reg
2.
3.
 Davy (1958) Tim
4.
 Peter Frampton: Alive Again (2001) Interviewee
6.
 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock (2000) Interviewee
7.
 Players, The (1999)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

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