It could be said that Peter Frampton has led a particularly charmed life.
The enigmatic Brit bounced through many phases over the course of a long and storied musical existence. He blossomed from teenage heartthrob, with the Herd, as "The Face of '68" by Rave magazine, into a veritable blues-rock guitar hero in Humble Pie. Frampton then found his place as one of the best selling solo artists of all time in the '70s. His excellent songwriting, impressive guitar chops, and keen sense of humor have earned him strong footing in the pantheon of rock's greats.
However, while Peter Frampton remains a household name -- whether it be as a lingering first crush or a favorite guitarist -- there have been times when he required others to "show him the way." Most notably, when the guitarist settled into a period of obscurity during the 1980s until former schoolmate, David Bowie, reintroduced him to the world in 1987. Unfortunately, the average music fan isn't as boned up on their Frampton as they really ought to be, but who can blame them? Frampton Comes Alive was, and is, an inescapable record, and that final ride out on "Do You Feel Like We Do" is still one the measuring sticks of live recorded excitement, so we understand the distraction.
When New Times caught a show by the king of the Heil talk box in 2011, we were entirely charmed by the singer, songwriter, guitar wrangler's performance -- particularly relative to recent ones we'd attended by Frampton's aging peers.
When we got word that Frampton would be returning to South Florida this month, we immediately thought about how much more fun you, our wonderful readers, might have if you had a bit more Frampton trivia under your belt, you know, to impress your friends with at the show?
So, without further ado, here are five deep track gems from Frampton's past and present that you should have a working knowledge of before you truly call yourself a fan.
5. The Herd - "I Don't Want Our Lovin' to Die"
Fresh-faced and fashionable, here we find a young Frampton in his first successful outfit, the Herd. Take note of the excellent use of bongos, that velveteen Frampton tenor that your Mom fell in love with, the epic jazz flute solo, and Frampton hanging tight to an early Gibson Les Paul Custom -- a guitar model that would become synonymous with his work.
4. Humble Pie - "Natural Born Woman"
Our personal favorite era of Frampton's career was when he was utilized as the Dr. Jeckyll to Steve Marriott's Mr. Hyde in Humble Pie. Frampton's smooth vocals and nice guy looks brought balance to the rough and tumble scruff of Marriott's soul-ridden howls. Frampton the guitar hero came to thrive within the confines of this band. The amps have grown larger, the hair a bit longer, and Frampton has gone from teen-throbber to adolescent rocker.
3. Humble Pie - "Shine On"
Humble Pie can really be considered the proving ground for what would become the Frampton sound, and "Shine On" is a great, early example of Frampton's songwriting prowess. Were one to strip away a bit of the inherent Humble Pie swagger, it would fit nicely into Frampton's solo era albums. Frampton still performs this number live and, for us, it was a major highlight of the 2011 show.
2. David Bowie - "Time Will Crawl"
While 1987 was certainly not Bowie's finest hour, it was the benevolent Ziggy Stardust that took former schoolmate Frampton off the dole and put him back in the spotlight as a guitarist on Never Let Me Down and subsequent Glass Spider Tour. Proper guitar dorks will immediately recognize specific Framptonisms from the guitar stabs on the albums title track, but "Time Will Crawl" is certainly the best (and most popular) moment to feature Frampton from this otherwise rough period in Bowie's career.
5. Peter Frampton - "Black Hole Sun"
Frampton was awarded a Grammy for his instrumental guitar album Fingerprints in 2007. This instrumental cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" features the talk box sound that Frampton put on the map with "Do You Feel..." in place of Chris Cornell's vocals. It also features Soundgarden (and Pearl Jam) drummer Matt Cameron and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. The cover has become a live staple and puts a new spin on "vocal" guitar work!
Frampton's Guitar Circus. Peter Frampton with Robert Cray Band. 8 p.m., May 31, at Hard Rock Live, One Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $49 to 129. Visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.
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