He was born in April 1950 in Beckenham, Kent and discovered music, in the shape of his grandmother's banjolele, at an early age. Thankfully he moved on to learn the piano and guitar and to take classical musical lessons at age eight. By the time he was 12 he was in a band called The Little Ravens and attending Bromley Technical School alongside David Bowie with whom he apparently used to wile away the lunch hours playing Buddy Holly songs. As was the norm in those days bands appeared and disappeared at a rapid rate and at various times Frampton was also a member of The Trubeats and a band called The Preachers. "We were sort of a jazz band, we played sort of Mose Allison stuff. We had sax, trumpet, drums, organ, bass, guitar. That was very exciting. Andy Bown saw me with The Preachers and asked me whether I'd like to join The Herd. I said 'Yeah', so I quit school and we sort of had a teenybopper success for a while."
With Andy Bown (keyboards), Gary Taylor (bass) and Andrew Steele (drums), and aided by Frampton's teen appeal - he was saddled with the tag "the face of '68" by Ravemagazine - The Herd were indeed a successful 1960s pop group with three Top 20 singles - 'From The Underworld', 'Paradise Lost' and 'I Don't Want Our Loving To Die' - and an album also called Paradise Lost. The creative limitations that pop stardom imposed on him though made Frampton restless, and in October 1968, after sitting in on a Small Faces gig and striking up an immediate rapport with Steve Marriott, the two of them began hatching plans for a more interesting future.
Frampton left The Herd in April 1969 and that same month formed the 'supergroup' Humble Pie with Marriott on guitar and vocals, Jerry Shirley on drums and Greg Ridley on bass. This line-up made four acclaimed albums As Safe As Yesterday, Town And Country, Humble Pie and Rock On none of which charted though and the band were beset by management and record company problems that hampered any lasting success despite having a No. 4 hit single early on with 'Natural Born Bugie'. There were also stylistic changes in the music. Marriott: "All through the first year I was really subduing all my instincts to play dirty rock'n'roll after all it was really Pete's band and I didn't want to tread on his toes. Then Dee Anthony (manager) gave us a good boot up the arse told us to cut out the acoustic stuff and play our balls off instead ... all solid, loud and crunchy." A directive that eventually caused Frampton to quit in October 1971 and go it alone.
The following year Frampton emerged with a solo album, Wind Of Change, and formed a new band, Frampton's Camel, to tour it in the US -their first public appearance was at The Academy of Music, New York in September 1972 supporting The J Geils Band. With a fluctuating line-up Frampton's Camel released their eponymous album in May 1973. Recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York and definitely sounding more like a band album than a Peter Frampton solo record, Frampton's Camel failed to make an impression on the UK chart at the time and only managed No. 110 in the US. The two singles taken from it -'All Night Long' and 'Which Way The Wind Blows' were similarly fated. In retrospect though it obviously deserved better and with the benefit of hindsight can be seen to be the solid, grounded stepping-off point for Frampton's subsequent success. His songwriting and guitar playing had matured giving him the confidence perhaps to step into the spotlight alone and assume star status. And this he did when Frampton's Camel was disbanded in November 1974 by which time he'd recorded and released the first of two moderately successful albums - Something's Happening (March 1974) and Frampton (March 1975).
But it was in April 1976, with the release of the very appropriately named double live set Frampton Comes Alive!, that his career path took a decidely upward trajectory. This album was a monster. With no appreciable chart profile to launch it, it was down to the five or more years of endless touring, building up a fanatical fan base, that paid off and made this album a huge hit. It was recorded mostly at The Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco and his elevation to superstardom was especially acute in the US where he was both rock idol and guitar god, and there Frampton Comes Alive! was a No. 1 album, stayed on theBillboard album chart for a total of 97 weeks and before too long had sold six million copies. In the UK it was a No. 6 chart album and its sales were further enhanced by the Top 10 single and future rock anthem 'Show Me The Way', which featured the famous and distinctive talk-box effect. Frampton was understandably elated, as he told Chris Charlesworth from Melody Maker: "It's the realisation that people do like my concerts and do like my songs that gets me. In one month things just seemed to go crazy ... the album went up the charts at a hundred miles an hour. It's what I've been working for all this time but it amazes me that the people seem as glad as I am that it has happened this way. I get a genuine feeling that the people are pleased at my success because they know I've worked so hard."
As far as chart success was concerned Frampton Comes Alive! was the pinnacle of Frampton's career, although he has made many fine albums since and has continued to tour regularly. The remainder of his album output through the 1970s and 1980s included I'm In You, which was a Top 20 album here, Where I Should Be, Breaking All the Rules, The Art Of Control, Premonition and When All The Pieces Fit. In 1978 he was involved in a serious car crash in the Bahamas that laid him low for a while and interrupted his recording and touring schedule, and in 1980 further calamity ensued when all of his guitars were lost in a plane crash. Despite these setbacks and lack of high-profile commercial success however he has remained a top concert draw. He has also recorded and appeared with other artists such as his old school friend David Bowie, and for a while at the beginning of the 1990s it looked as if he might team up again with Steve Marriott. The two played a gig together in London and recorded some songs in LA before Marriott returned to England and tragically died in a house fire.
Frampton Comes Alive II, with live versions of some of his more well-known 1980s and 1990s tracks, made an appearance in 1995 and another live album, Live in Detroit, was released in 2000. Fingerprints in 2006 was an instrumental departure that won him a Grammy and in 2010 he released his most recent album Thank You Mr Churchill and toured the US on the same bill as Yes.
At the time of its release, Frampton Comes Alive! was an anomaly, a multi-million-selling (mid-priced) double LP by an artist who had previously never burned up the charts with his long-players in any spectacular way. The biggest-selling live album of all time, it made Peter Frampton a household word and generated a monster hit single in "Show Me the Way." And the reason why is easy to hear: the Herd/Humble Pie graduate packed one hell of a punch on-stage -- where he was obviously the most comfortable -- and, in fact, the live versions of "Show Me the Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do," "Something's Happening," "Shine On," and other album rock staples are much more inspired, confident, and hard-hitting than the studio versions.
Words - Bruce Eder
Peter Frampton's solo debut after leaving Humble Pie (as they stood on the brink of stardom) spotlights Frampton's well-crafted, though lyrically lightweight, songwriting and his fine guitar playing. The songs on Wind of Change are built primarily around acoustic guitar foundations, but "It's a Plain Shame" and "All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)" sound like they could have been lifted off Humble Pie's Rock On. The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton's distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout. A comparison between this album and Humble Pie's post-Frampton turn to generic boogie-rock shows why Frampton left that group. Although Humble Pie's Smokin' was much more successful, hitting the Top Ten in the spring of 1972, Wind of Change was far superior musically. With its mix of ballads and upbeat numbers with just enough of a rock edge, Wind of Change showed Frampton at his creative peak. The band here includes Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and Klaus Voorman.
Words - Jim Newsom
Named after Frampton's touring band at the time, Frampton's Camel has a harder-rocking feel than its predecessor Wind of Change, with Mick Gallagher's percussive electric piano and organ taking a prominent position in the mix and Frampton getting a harder sound from his electric guitars (though his acoustic playing is so lush and lyrical that it dominates the album here and there in its quiet way). The sound on this recording lays out the formula that Frampton would take to mega-success three years later with the release of Frampton Comes Alive.
The songs are all first-rate or close to it -- included here is the original studio version of the group composition "Do You Feel Like We Do," a quicker-tempo, extended (albeit less majestic) version of which appeared on the latter album and became a staple of classic-rock radio, but the Frampton-composed "I Got My Eyes on You" and "Don't Fade Away" and the Frampton-Gallagher "All Night Long" are also compelling examples of '70s hard rock at its commercial best. This album also includes a nice cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You It Will Be Forever)," the power ballad "Lines on My Face," the rollicking "White Sugar," and Frampton's gorgeously lyrical, all acoustic "Just the Time of the Year." As on Wind of Change, Frampton's use of dynamics and mix of acoustic and electric guitars keeps the music from becoming one-dimensional.
Words - Jim Newsom & Bruce Eder
Peter’s third studio came out in 1974 and reached No.125 on the Billboard album chart. After the band’s keyboard player left before the recording of this album Frampton took over the duties in addition to his customary guitar role. Engineered by Chris Kimsey engineering, in London, and at Headley Grange in Hampshire, which had been previously used by Led Zeppelin for some of their notable recordings. The cover of the album was designed album by Hipgnosis , it features freeze-frame photos of the band having buckets of water thrown in their faces. The title track later became the opening track of Frampton Comes Alive, which also featured ‘Double Wah’ and ‘I Wanna Go To The Sun’ that can be found on this album.
Fingerprints, released in 2006, is Peter Frampton’s first instrumental album, and features guest appearances from friends and musical acquaintances, as well as Frampton’s signature effect, the talkbox. It was his first album on A&M Records in 24 years. Fingerprints won a Grammy in 2007 for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Peter Frampton releases records so rarely that he’s almost forced to plainly admit their themes in the titles: 2003’s Now dealt with the present while its 2010 successor, Thank You Mr. Churchill, casts an eye toward the past, Frampton piecing together his history from WWII to modern times. Fittingly for a concept album so ambitious, Frampton has wound up with a heavy progressive rock record, roiling with dense riffs, segmented songs, and winding blues jams. Happily, he hasn't ignored his previous life as either a Tamla/Motown devotee or pop star, cutting the introspection and ambition with a handful of lighter moments -- such as the unashamed arena rocker “I’m Due a You,” the irrepressible bounce of “Invisible Man” (which does indeed feature members of the Funk Brothers), and even the circular acoustic guitar of “Restraint” -- that give the album levity while broadening its palette, helping to push Thank You Mr. Churchill to one of Frampton’s richest records and unexpectedly one of his best.
Words - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It was almost inevitable thatnI'm in You would be thought of as a letdown no matter now good it was. Following up to one of the biggest selling albums of the decade, Peter Frampton faced a virtually impossible task, made even more difficult by the fact that in the two years since he'd cut any new material, he had evolved musically away from some of the sounds on Frampton Comes Alive. The result was mostly a surprisingly laid-back album steeped in lyricism and craftsmanship, particularly in its use of multiple overdubs even on the harder rocking numbers. From the opening bars of "I'm in You," dominated by the sound of the piano (played by Frampton) and an ARP synthesizer-generated string section, rather than a guitar, it was clear that Frampton was exploring new sides of his music. Cuts like "Won't You Be My Friend," a piece of white funk that might've been better at six minutes running time, seemed to be dangerously close to self-indulgence at eight minutes long. The high points also include the title track, "Don't Have to Worry," and a killer cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)"; a couple of solid rock numbers, "Tried to Love" and the crunching "(I'm A) Roadrunner" also work their way in here to pump up the tension and excitement. I'm in You was successful on its own terms, and had Frampton recorded it before the live album, it would probably be very fondly looked back on.
Words - Bruce Eder
Frampton's fall from grace has been scrutinized ad nauseam, but notice the abundant use of "I" on this record as opposed to "you" in his hottest songs: "Do You Feel Like We Do," "I'll Give You Money," and "I'm in You." Here, Frampton is focused on self-preservation, rather than just blasting audiences like the straight rocker he is. The decent title cut begs to be "Back on the road, where I should be." No doubt, as over the year preceding the album Frampton suffered a car accident and his celebrity star imploded. The most excellent opener, "I Can't Stand It No More," lets loose another cry for the simpler days (akin to Cheap Trick's "Stop This Game"); the single even rose to number 13 on Billboard's Top 40, the last time Frampton would see the charts.
Words - Doug Stone
The album is particularly well remembered for its anthemic title track, which Peter co-wrote with Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid. It also features two members of Toto, Steve Lukather on guitar and Jeff Porcaro on drums and percussion. Both men were regular session players and Porcaro in particular was one of the most sought after players in California. He played on Steely Dan’s album, ‘Katy Lied’ as well as everyone from Stan Getz to Eric Clapton and Dire Straits to Paul McCartney.
With it's cover photo that is very similar in feel to the cover of Frampton Comes Alive this album does exactly what it says on the cover. It is eighteen tracks from across Peter's 1970s and early 1980s albums It includes such gems as 'Shine On, 'Baby, I Love Your Way,"'and 'Show Me the Way'.