In 1976, Peter Frampton released “Frampton Comes Alive!” which went on to become one of the best-selling live albums of all time. After over a decade as a member of bands like the Herd and Humble Pie, and as a solo artist, Frampton was a mega-star.
That massive fame was fleeting, and within a few years of becoming a headliner at major stadiums, Frampton was playing small venues and selling far fewer records. It was the result of bad management, bad decisions and bad timing, and Frampton chronicles all of them in his recently released and inspiring memoir entitled “Do You Feel Like I Do?”
Rock star memoirs usually fall into a couple of categories; they are either tell-all books filled with debauchery and over-indulgence of drugs, or introspective. Frampton’s memoir is not only introspective; at times, it is raw in its acknowledgement of the author’s own shortcomings as a husband, father and his lack of business acumen.
Frampton’s story is ripe for a memoir, it is filled with vicissitudes, but Frampton is not looking for sympathy, he wants to tell a story that anyone who has dealt with adversity can understand. There are also some fun stories along the way, such as his discovery of the talkbox, and the inside story of the recovery of his storied Phenix guitar.
There are also important lessons for other musicians, which include being good to your fans, and if you establish yourself as a great live act, everything else will eventually fall into place.
Frampton drops plenty of names and shares his brushes with greatness, but the one relationship that is crucial to Frampton’s career was his lifelong friendship with David Bowie. Not only did Bowie and Frampton attend school together, Frampton’s father was Bowie’s art teacher in grade school.
Bowie’s hiring of Frampton as one of his live guitarists on the 1987 “Glass Spider” tour was the beginning of a slow resurgence for Frampton. Within a decade, he was headlining or co-headlining in major arenas, and while he never quite reached the level of popularity he enjoyed in 1976 and 1977, he carved out an incredible music career, culminating in a Grammy Award in 2007 and a massively successful farewell tour in 2019.
Frampton also writes extensively about his battle with inclusion body myositis (IBM), a condition that ultimately led to his decision to stop touring.
Those tours included many stops at Artpark in recent years, beginning with a spectacular show in 2006 that packed the venue. One of his return visits included a full performance of “Frampton Comes Alive!” and on his final visit to the venue; he opened for the Steve Miller Band and performed a few songs with Miller as well.
While Frampton is unlikely to perform in Western New York again, he created many memories in the region, and if you are a fan of his music, you will definitely appreciate the book.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.