Peter Frampton will come alive with a favorite old guitar this Saturday — more than 30 years after it was believed to have been lost in a plane crash.
Fans remember the instrument, given to Frampton when his band Humble Pie appeared at the Fillmore West in 1970, as the centerpiece of his mega-selling late-1970s solo concert recording Frampton Comes Alive. He also used the same custom guitar on a number of memorable sessions with the likes of the Beatles’ George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the Who’s John Entwistle, as well as Humble Pie’s Rock On and Rocking The Fillmore albums. But in 1980, a cargo plane carrying all of Frampton’s equipment — including this now-legendary axe — went down on the way to Panama, with all of its contents reportedly lost. The guitar was recently discovered on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao and, with the help of the local tourist board, it has been belatedly returned to Frampton.
“It was given to me, taken away from me via a fiery plane crash, then given back to me 31 years later,” Frampton said in published reports. “To think that I would ever play this guitar again is beyond belief.”
After having some restoration work done through Gibson Guitar’s Custom Shop, the instrument is now ready to make a return to the stage — just in time Frampton’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive.
“After some repairs have now been finished at Gibson in Nashville, I will be able to play it on stage at the Beacon Theater,” Frampton said of Saturday’s date in New York City. “It will be one of those days I won’t forget as long as I live.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Peter Frampton. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
PETER FRAMPTON – THANK YOU MR. CHURCHILL (2010): A return to his bread-and-butter straight ahead rock. Now 60, it’s only fair to ask, how does this aging rocker sound doing the same kind of music he was doing when had a baby face and long, flowing locks? The answer is, he’s holding up quite well, thank you very much. His guitar licks remain tasty, his riffs are huge (the funky one on “I’ve Got It Bad” is Godzilla-sized) and his voice remains in fine form.
PETER FRAMPTON – FINGERPRINTS (2006): Frampton’s first-ever instrumental release boasts a buffet-style diversity. And by refusing to settle into easy genre work — you just knew this would be jazz(zzzzzzzzz)y, right? — Frampton finally distances himself completely from a certain mid-1970s double live album. Well, almost anyway. No, familiar keyboardist Bob Mayo doesn’t appear. (He actually died of a heart attack on tour some years ago.) But Stanley Sheldon, the bassist on “Frampton Comes Alive!” is here. Only — instead of feeling like they usually do — these two collaborate on a lilting Spanish-inflected number called “Ida Y Vuelta.” In so doing, he brilliantly sidesteps the sleepy schlock that reformed rockers usually begin recording once they, too, get lines on their face.
PETER FRAMPTON – FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE (1976): The album from which Frampton never recovered. This was a huge record. It sold a boatload of copies. Hits were all over the radio. Everybody owned it. (Cripes, even my dad liked this record!) We all rooted for Frampton after this. But there was that Sgt. Pepper thing … and also “I’m In You” … yikes!
ONE TRACK MIND: PETER FRAMPTON, “DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO?” (1975): “Do You Feel…” was That Seventies Song for a number of reasons: it’s a long, extended blues-based jam in the proud tradition of The Allman Brothers Band. And even harder rock back then had a stronger sense of melody. This song’s melody, though, is really three of ‘em pasted together: the rock-jazz fusion intro with its keyboards/guitar unison lines, the main, full-on rock vocal part and that extended, laid-back section that Frampton used for noodling, ripping and riffing on his black Les Paul. Today those licks seem almost standard fare, but Framp is one of the reasons why such fare became emulated so much. We examine a performance of the song from just before Frampton Comes Alive.
FORGOTTEN SERIES: PETER FRAMPTON – FRAMPTON (1975): I was visiting friends and found it in the 3/$7 bin. Couldn’t not get it. Boy, it’s really, really weird to hear studio versions of tunes that have long been inhabiting my brain chemicals in entirely different forms. And, ya know what? The record ain’t half bad. Strangely, it ends with “Penny For Your Thoughts” then “(I’ll Give You) Money,” just like on the original live record. Comfort for nostalgia freaks like me.