There was a time, back when I was little Tim, when there wasn’t a soul around who didn’t know the name of Peter Frampton, or his seminal live album “Frampton Comes Alive!”
Seriously…I think it was a requirement for the seventies that you had to own it. Maybe by government mandate. And it made sense too, because this album definitely rocks in a way that makes me compare every live performance I’ve ever seen against it.
“They were good…but not “Framton Comes Alive!” good.
It’s not just the music that’s great either. The crowd and the energy they captured on the recording simply doesn’t occur that often. Seriously, back in San Mateo where I was driving forklifts in college, the warehouse manager told us stories of going to this show and being deaf for a week after.
That’s how loud the crowd was.
But more surprising then how fucking awesome this album is, is how little people know about who Peter Frampton is. Hell, he’s almost become like a musical punchline…because aside from this album, no one seems to know what else he’s ever done.
Born in England, Frampton went to the Bromley Technical same school as David Bowie, where Framton’s dad was an art teacher. David and Peter even hung out at lunch and play songs. By age eleven he was in a band called The Trubeats, followed by The Preachers who were produced by The Stone’s Bill Wyman.
BY 1966 he was singer and lead guitarist for The Herd and scored a series of teenybopper hits in the UK. In 1969, an 18 year old Frampton joined up with Steve Mariott of The Small Faces and formed Humble Pie. By then he was already an established and respected musician in the UK scene, recording sessions for artists like Jerry lee Lewis, while performing on albums like John Entwistle’s “Whistle Rhymes” and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.” In fact, it was during a session with George that Frampton was introduced to the talk box which would soon help form his signature sound.
After making five Humble Pie albums, Frampton went solo in 1971, but his early albums achieved only minimal commercial success, despite his frequent touring. But all that changes in 1976 when he released “Frampton Comes Alive!”
Recorded mostly at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, with other pieces recorded in Long Island, the album includes a slew of surefire hits like ‘Show Me The Way,’ “Baby I Love Your Way’ and my personal favorite “Do You feel Like We Do?’ It was the top selling album of 1976 and stayed on the charts for years, still getting plenty of airplay 30 years later.
Why? Because it’s the bomb!
You don’t go six times double platinum for nothing! He got invited to the White House, got the cover of Rolling Stone, and got a starring movie roll!
Unfortunately, that movie was the Bee Gee’s ill conceived “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of the end. But rather than dwell on the failure, let us focus on the triumph of another of the greatest live albums of our time.
And if you want to focus on failure, check out my new book “How to Blow a 24 Point Lead” by DJ Tim and The Los Angeles Lakers.