Monday, June 26, 2006

Thirty Years Ago

During the summer of 1976 you couldn't enter a music store (or the bedroom of many a teenaged girl..or guy) without seeing a nearly life-sized image of Peter Frampton. Soulful-eyed, open-shirted, angelic-faced Peter Frampton. Armed with his guitar and a soft corona of golden curls he was like a Rock n' Roll Jesus and it was impossible for me ( I'm sure I'm not alone in this) to gaze upon his stunning face without a sharp intake of breath.

It was the summer before my senior year of high school. I was working at Six Flags and I wore the senior ring of my boyfriend of the moment. One of the gift shops where I worked played nonstop rock and the music from the "Frampton Comes Alive" double live album and, of the posters of rock stars which we sold by the hundreds, none sold as well as that displaying the beautiful visage of Peter Frampton.

For the uninitiated, Frampton, a former member of Humble Pie, set the world on fire with his "Comes Alive" contribution in January of 1976 and it ranked Number One for 10 weeks. The album stayed in the Top 10 for over a year and it was declared the BEST-SELLING LIVE ALBUM OF ALL TIME, a record it held comfortably for over 20 years. For you youngsters out there that means that, while you were unknowingly salivating over the newest offerings from musicians in 1996, Peter Frampton still held the title for Best Live Album...EVER. Many music analysts still consider it to be among the top ten live album releases ever produced...keeping good company with Joni Mitchell's "Miles of Aisles", War's "War Live", The Who's "Live at Leeds" and my personal favorite, The Allman Brothers' "Live At The Fillmore East".

None of this matters much in the total scheme of things, but I was sitting by the neighbor's pool today and thinking about what I was doing 30 years ago. I was a skinny teenager whose teeth had recently been released from the captivity of braces and "Baby I Love Your Way" was on every rock station. While thinking about that magical summer I remembered what Time magazine writer Richard Lacayo wrote about the death of George Harrison when comparing the passing of years to the face of a great clock: "Year after year we have looked at them--at the aging of those faces--at the mellowing of their lives--to see what time it is for all of us."

I think this is true of anyone whom we held in high regard in our youth. We get older...and so do they. Time, however, has been good to Peter Frampton. He continues to mentor and produce music. He had a part in Cameron Crowe's movie, "Almost Famous". He did the voiceover for his cartoon self in an episode of "The Simpsons". He's recorded a new cd. Sure... the long hair is gone, but the face is the same. I've learned that as long as you're doing what you've always done, it's never pathetic or desperate. That's not to say the one if forbidden to pursue new interests or skills, but to see a 56-year old man take up the guitar in the hopes of being a rockstar is uncomfortably sad. To see a 56-year old man doing what he's always done is an inspiration. Here's to you, Peter Frampton. Baby....I love your way.


Blogger Rock said...

"I woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand.

Whose wine, what wine, where the hell did I dine?

It must have been a dream - I can't remember where I have been.

C'mon - let's do it again.

Do you - YOU - feel like I do?"

I remember hearing that blaring from my car as I approached a party in Baytown years ago as us 30-somethings were about to congregate - and thinking "man that is the most kick-ass song of all time - and it's old".

As a young kid my parents would always drive around to look at houses - those Sunday drives that went on forever. I somehow forced my non-cool parents to turn the radio to the Top 40 station - and Frampton was always blaring out. That's pretty much my most fervent memory of Framption. Making my parents listen to it.

By the way WordGirl - Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" is the greatest selling album of all time.

10:51 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...


4:09 AM  
Blogger Rude Cactus said...

You know, I do love the album but I've never understood its massive popularity. For my money, Live At Leeds is one of the greatest live albums, along with a few shows from the last few Pearl Jam tours. While I don't understand the appeal of Frampton Comes Alive, I do dig the album.

5:51 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

According the most polls I visited, the best selling album of all time is actually "The Eagles Greatest Hits...1971-76?"). It has sold 28 million copies. "Dark Side of the Rock- Moon" has sold 15 million.
"Frampton Comes Alive" was the best selling LIVE recording for over 20 years, but as I said, it has been bested since then. I'm not sure by whom. It is still considered to be one of the Top 10 Live Albums of all times (based on sales, popularity, technique), but it is the last one mentioned on the list.

RC- "Live at Leeds" was definitely higher on the "BEST LIVE" list than Frampton.

6:04 AM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

I was 9 in 1976 and Peter Frampton was the first rock guy that I ever swooned over (David Cassidy doesn't really count, does he?) I loved PF and his music and I still have several songs from Frampton Comes Alive in my iTunes. As I recall, my friend gave me a 45 of Peter Frampton with "You're in Me" on one side and a cover of "Signed Sealed Delivered" on the other for my birthday. And I agree, he has aged rather well.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Baking and Books said...

Im always amazed to see pictures from any decade before the late 90's. Just goes to show how fleeting fashion is eh?


7:14 AM  
Blogger Lisa Ann said...

Oh man. What memories that brings back. Thanks for the blast from the past.

7:34 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Frampton rocks.

9:06 AM  
Blogger lildb said...

that's a heckuva great tribute (and no, I'm not inferring that you/he did a heckuva job, Brownie - I still like the "heckuva" thing, even if the preznit kinda put a damper on its fun-ocity).

p.s. The Framp remains a hotty. phee-ew.

*wipes damp brow, pats chest with hand*

10:32 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The first thing I did when your page loaded: Gasp for air.

Ok. And my tummy got all tizzy.

He still does it for me!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

My husband and son went to go see Frampton at a local town fair last year. He is still playing great. My son was not familiar with him but really enjoyed the show. Unfortunately, they weren't able to go this year when he came back.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Mom / Ma'am / Me said...

Boy, he definitely did age well compared to Leif Garrett. Maybe it's the actual talent that made the difference. ;-)

5:19 PM  
Blogger aka Brandi said...

Ha! I had the same, "Oh, Baby! Peter Frampton!" reaction...

He Rocked. Literally. And those songs...

This just made me homesick for the 70's. Sigh.

8:27 PM  
Blogger cameo said...

ah, frampton.

i saw him perform in the early 90's - it was bliss.

and now i have turned my boys onto him. gotta keep the love goin'.

wasn't he a sweet young thing?

mmm mmm mmm.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I want YOU to want ME!

I think that will always be my favorite song from Peter Frampton. I was only five in 76, but my sister was 10, and he was high on her list of hotties. I think she even had a poster. Do teenagers still have posters in their rooms anymore?

10:48 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

"I Want You to Want Me" was by Cheap Trick.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

With a resigned sigh, Gina walks over to the corner, sits on the stool, and puts on her pointy "Dunce" cap. Again.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

Frampton Comes Alive was my first album. I was in 5th grade. Still have it. Will never tire of it. Reminds me of summer nights when school is out and the grass smells fresh cut. It reminds me of pool parties and a simpler time.

"I want you to want me" was Cheap Trick - Live at Budakhan - also a fabulous album that I have.

Anyway, "Dark Side of the Moon" was great even though it wasn't live. Back up singer Pat Patterson is on that one isn't she. SHe ROCKS.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Wow, I'm staring at that photo and trying to project young PF onto it. It's how I felt watching that bands reunited show on VH1 a year or two ago. It's hard to see your childhood crushes fat, bald and still squeezing into the leathers.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Rock said...

Anyway you look at it pals, discussing Frampton, Dark Side and Cheap Trick at the same time gets a great smile on my face - that's cool and it s rock and roll, and I miss it.,

All we're missing is Tom.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I quoted you.

8:16 AM  

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