Celebrated English guitarist, singer and songwriter Peter Frampton joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about "being two musicians" and more on the latest episode of "Everything Fab Four," a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.
Frampton, known for his legendary 1976 double album "Frampton Comes Alive!" and hits such as "Baby, I Love Your Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do?" (the best song "written about a hangover," as he tells Womack) and "Show Me the Way," taught himself to play guitar at age seven. Being born a few years after the Beatles were, and yet a few years before the next wave of popular musicians, gave him an advantage in the "proving ground" of rock music that England had become at the time.
Growing up watching musicians such as Lonnie Donegan and Billy Fury on English TV, it was in 1962 that Frampton saw the Beatles performing "Love Me Do" on a show and was completely taken aback. "It was different, unique, attractive" he explains. "It was no longer Cliff Richard with four guys standing behind him. They were self-contained, and they had written the music themselves. It was genius."
Frampton himself had been playing in bands since he was 10 years old and continued to move up through various groups on the British scene in the 1960s, working alongside fellow up-and-comer David Bowie and then, under the mentorship of the Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman. After a stint with the band Humble Pie, he went out on his own. But the moment he calls "like all his birthday and Christmas wishes coming true at once" was being asked to play on a Doris Troy track ("Ain't That Cute," 1970) that George Harrison was producing. "I walked into the studio and George said, 'Hello Pete.' And I was like, 'How does he know who I am!?'"
The opportunity opened the door for Frampton to work with many other musicians such as Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann, and to play on Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" album. He also met beloved Beatles road manager Mal Evans, and has an incredible story about holding John Lennon's famed black Rickenbacker guitar thanks to that experience.
As far as recording music goes, Frampton says that "technology is wonderful, but you've got to have a great song to start," and that there is a "studio me" and a "live me." But ultimately he, like the Beatles and all the best musicians, feels that "there is a joy I have when I play, and you can just feel it."
Listen to the entire conversation with Peter Frampton on "Everything Fab Four," including how he came into possession of an early copy of "Sgt. Pepper" that "literally fell off the back of a truck," and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, or wherever you're listening.
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"Everything Fab Four" is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin and the bestselling books "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles" and "John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life." His latest project is the authorized biography and archives of Beatles road manager Mal Evans, due out in 2023.
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