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By the time Frampton recorded his first solo album, Wind of Change, in 1972, his guitar-playing was in demand among rock's elite. He played on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, and Ringo Starr and Billy Preston played on Wind of Change. After recording two more solo albums, Frampton finally achieved gold status (500,000 units sold) with 1975's Frampton. That same year, as he was driving in New York City one day, he almost crashed when he heard on the radio that he was one of five guitarists being considered to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones. He didn't get the gig, but a year later Frampton Comes Alive! was released.
After the dust of the '70s settled, Frampton spent the next two decades recording albums that received very little attention and playing sideman to fellow rockers, most notably David Bowie, who asked his old friend to join him on tour in 1987. By that time Frampton had taken some time off to start a new family, and, perhaps not by mistake, his career in the '90s has been very low-key. He claims that he's equally comfortable in the roles of headliner, sideman, and opening act, and enjoys playing live as much as he did in the '70s. And, no, he isn't tired of playing the hits.
"I know there are artists who may want to put their old hits in a box, but these songs became hits live," he explains. "The actual performing of them is the most enjoyable part for me. If I said, 'I'm not gonna do them,' that would be awful. If I was an audience member, I would feel totally gypped."
While the ghost of the '70s will always haunt him, Frampton learned early in his career that depending on musical success for personal fulfillment leads to a dead end.
"I've done everything," he states. "I've been one of the chosen few to be, at one time or another, the biggest act in the world. I've been there and done that, and now I look forward to being with my family more than ever. Don't get me wrong. I love playing live, and when my wife and I decide, 'This would be a good thing to do, this would be great -- more stuff in the college fund,' then I do it."
Peter Frampton, Tommy Shaw, and Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform Friday, October 16, at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. The show starts at 7 p.m. For tickets call 954-523-3309 in Broward County, 561-966-3309 in Palm Beach County.