with a ton of hairspray on his shoulder-length locks and the angelic little
face, the one all our girlfriends fell in love with while he tricked us with
his "talk box" guitar, today is a venerable old rocker, with his head
shaved clean down to his neck and a friendly face who just turned 65. That kid whose school classmate was one David Bowie is Peter Frampton, a legend who continues giving us lessons with his Acoustic Classics, a look back over his
career in the embrace of an acoustic guitar that looks for beauty in the
simplicity that has always characterized this true rock anti-star.
It was exactly 41 years ago, in 1976, when Frampton released his legendary Frampton Comes Alive! That record established him as one of the finest guitarists in rock, armed with his talk-box and a handful of those songs that never disappear from the "back catalogue" of radio stations. Show Me the Way, Do You Feel Like I Do, I’m in You… very few times does a musician enjoy a hit of such huge dimensions. He was the shining star of the moment at 26 years old.
A star who found that the six million albums sold in one shot weighed heavily on him for almost three decades, a time when he practically disappeared from sight in spite of the help of old friends like Humble Pie, Bowie and the Rolling Stones. Good fortune began to smile his way again in 2007, when he won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album -Fingerprints- and revived his career without any inhibitions for the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive!
Frampton discovered that people wanted to see him play live. They wanted to hear his guitar. And also those old songs.
That new Frampton is the one who recorded his ‘classics’ unplugged after freeing himself from the pressure of success. He knows his albums will never be #1 again so he can do whatever he wants, including having fun with his own legend. And it's noticeable on his new album how much he enjoys reinterpreting it with the six-string jewel he is pictured with on the cover.
Frampton's relationship with his guitars is difficult to understand, except to people like the readers of guitarsexchange.com. They are like an extension of him. He explained that a few years ago in an interview for Gibson -another guitarist in love with the Les Pauls- in attributing a major part of his creative block in the '80s, when he had the world at his feet, on the ill-fated airplane accident in 1980 that wiped out his collection, all his equipment, all those guitars so carefully tuned for his tiny fingers and exquisitely decorated. Without them, he declared, he wasn't capable of recovering his own sound for a very long time.
The first lesson learned from Acoustic Classics is humility. The second is that perfection isn't at odds with simplicity. Everything appears easy with Frampton. Then you listen to Penny for Your Thoughts and you understand why his name always figures among the greatest guitarists in history.
Listen Acoustic Classics now in Spotify!
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