Full name, Peter Kenneth Frampton; born April 22, 1950, in Beckenham, Kent, England; son of Owen (a cabinetmaker and head of a high school art department) and Peggy Frampton; married Mary Lovett, August 24, 1972 (marriage ended); married Barbara Gold, 1983; children (second marriage) Jade. Addresses: Office --c/o Hit & Run Music Ltd., 81-83 Walton St., London SW3 2HR England.
For Peter Frampton, fame came swiftly and unexpectedly in 1976 with the release of a live album that succeeded in doing what his studio recordings could not: deliver the zeal of an immensely talented musician. The media, rushing to explain the phenomenon, and his advisers, rushing to make a buck, had much to do with Frampton's eventual downfall and his later insistence on governing his reemerging career. Said Frampton in a Rolling Stone interview: "I started out as a musician, and I ended up as a cartoon." Unlike many performers who never had the chance, Frampton learned from his mistakes, and acted on that knowledge.
Born April 22, 1950, in Beckenham, Kent, England, Peter Frampton made his musical debut, guitar in hand, at the age of 8 at a Boy Scout variety show. The audience responded so well he could not help but do an encore. By 16 he was playing with the English pop group The Herd, meeting now with the approval of adoring tennyboppers. "It was great and it was terrible all in the same time," Frampton said in a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone. "It was incredibly exciting to be screamed at, but on the other hand, it wears thin very quickly, and the music was being forgotten." Concerned about that, and about mismanagement of the band, Frampton left in 1969 to form Humble Pie. After several moderately successful studio albums, and despite the band's popularity, Frampton again severed ties. This time, while he was convinced the group would be big, the style of music--leaning toward a louder, harder sound--did not suit him.
As a session musician, Frampton worked with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. His association with Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, and Billy Preston would provide him with a backup group in 1972 when he recorded his first solo album, Winds of Change. What followed was four years of concentrated touring in the United States, opening for such bands as ZZ Top, the J. Geils Band, and Humble Pie. His stage performance had a magical quality to it, but his albums sold poorly. Finally, in March of 1976, he released the live album Frampton Comes Alive and went on a vacation before a one-nighter in Detroit. That one-nighter became two when the first sold out in an hour, then three when the second sold out in half an hour, until Frampton had a five-night engagement awaiting him in the Motor City.
No longer an opening act, Frampton spent the summer of 1976 playing for audiences as large as 100,000; being joined on stage by well-known musicians like Stephen Stills and Carlos Santana. Billboard named him Artist of the Year, as did the readers of Rolling Stone. Said Frampton of this success: "At times I felt I was being thrown into the deep end, but I work very well in that situation ... I never said no to anything. I told everything to everybody. I gave everything away, and when you give it all away, you have nothing left."
Throughout the rest of 1976, Frampton Comes Alive continued to top the charts, remaining at number one for seventeen weeks and ultimately selling over 15 million copies. Driven by his manager, he played as many as seven nights a week, boosting his fatigue with cocaine and liquor. At the end of the summer--again, at his manager's insistence--he reluctantly began recording another album. I'm In You did not hold up to the success of the live album. Fans knew it. Critics knew it. Frampton knew it. The following summer, though, he toured again at the same frantic pace, relying on much of the material from the previous summer's album for his stage show. According to Rolling Stone, Frampton finally reached the point of quitting. He was talked out of it. "The consensus of opinion was that if I pulled out, it wouldn't look good," he said. "What that really meant was that a lot of revenue wouldn't be coming in.... No one really thought about my health, except that I was starting to consider the fact that here I am alone in a room with a bottle of Remy Martin drinking myself to sleep."
After the I'm in You tour, work began with the Bee Gees on the movie Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The film, a poorly received fantasy, featured 29 Beatle songs and spawned an accompanying album. Frampton had had his doubts from the beginning, consoling himself with the knowledge that Paul McCartney would be in the picture. In the end, though, Billy Preston played that part. "I'd transgressed the un-written law," Frampton said later. "I'd messed with the Beatles, something I swore I would never do. I'm sure a lot of people thought I was selling out." Just before the film was released, Frampton was involved in a serious car accident that left him with multiple fractures and lacerations.
Knowing that his next album needed to be stronger than the last did nothing to help him make it. Where I Should Be produced only one single, "I Can't Stand It No More." By 1979, instead of playing multiple nights at Madison Square Garden, he played only one. His next album, The Art of Control was put together with the help of songwriter Mark Goldenberg. "There was nothing I could do at that point," Frampton commented in his 1988 Rolling Stone interview, "to make it any better. And that was the time I realized that it was time to ... completely start all over again." A few months after the release of The Art of Control in 1982, his record company dropped him.
Putting his life back together was a personal struggle for Frampton. He loathed the thought that people still confused him with the cartoon character, the caricature he felt that his manager and the media had created. In 1983, he began the transformation with his marriage to Barbara Gold. Their daughter, Jade, was born a year later. According to Rolling Stone, these events were crucial to Frampton: "It was additional proof that not all his hopes for a good life resided with his music.... He grabbed at any evidence that suggested he was still what he always most wanted to be, a songwriter and a guitar player who was respected by his peers."
In 1984, guitarist Steve Morse asked Frampton to help write a song for Morse's upcoming album. Encouraged to begin practicing again, Frampton amassed enough new material of his own by the end of the year to make an album. Under new management, he recorded and released Premonition in early 1986 and struggled to "come alive" once again. "I think at some point I might have said it must be great to be as big as Elvis, but that wasn't a realistic dream.... My success is enjoying what I do, and if I can maintain that enjoyment, that is more success than however many albums I sell. The other kind of big success ... that just isn't in my dreams."
by Meg Mac Donald
Peter Frampton's Career
Singer songwriter, guitarist. Member of rock band the Herd, 1966-69; member of rock band Humble Pie, 1969-71; solo artist, 1972--. Appeared in motion picture Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the role of Billy Shears, 1978.
Peter Frampton's Awards
Named Billboard magazine's artist of the year, 1976.
- With the Herd
- Lookin' Through You Fontana, 1968.
- With Humble Pie
- As Safe as Yesterday Is Immediate, 1969.
- Town and Country Immediate, 1969.
- Humble Pie A&M, 1970.
- Rock On A&M, 1971.
- Rockin' at the Fillmore A&M, 1971.
- Solo LPs
- Winds of Change A&M, 1972.
- Frampton's Camel A&M, 1973.
- Somethin's Happening A&M, 1974.
- Frampton A&M, 1975.
- Frampton Comes Alive A&M, 1976.
- I'm in You A&M, 1977.
- Where I Should Be A&M, 1979.
- Breaking All the Rules A&M, 1981.
- The Art of Control A&M, 1982.
- Premonition Atlantic, 1986.
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 1978.
July 15, 2003: Frampton's album, 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection, is released. Source: Yahoo! Shopping, shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=product&id=1921986483, July 16, 2003.
June 2004: Frampton joined Clear Channel Broadcasting's Instant Live program, which arranges the sale of live concert recordings immediately following a performance. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, June 28, 2004.
October 2004: Frampton became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Source: Associated Press, http://customwire.ap.org, October 11, 2004.
- Anderson, Christopher P., The Book of People, Putnam, 1981.
- Nite, Norm N., and Ralph M. Newman, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock 'N' Roll, Volume II: The Modern Years 1964-Present, Crowell, 1978.
- Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, St. Martin's, 1974.
- Newsweek, April 19, 1976.
- New York Times, October 3, 1976.
- Rolling Stone, July 26, 1979; July 3, 1986.