Tuesday, March 12, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Almost Famous - Peter Frampton & Me

While surfing YouTube recently, I discovered a video of Peter Frampton in his golden prime, performing his classic Do You Feel Like We Do in 1975 on The Midnight Special, the NBC Friday late-night music show. I remember seeing that TV performance when I was a kid. It was the first time I had seen Peter perform, and it knocked me out. I became an instant fan.

Mind you, this came a year before the release of Frampton Comes Alive!, the legendary double album that catapulted Peter into the stratosphere. But when you watch the video, you can just tell that this amiable, charismatic, crowd-pleasing and impossibly gifted British guitar master was on the brink of superstardom.


In the second half of the 70's, Peter was the biggest rock star in the world. But largely because of his looks, and the fact that his toothy smile and constant barrage of shirtless photos melted girls' hearts, he was lumped in with the teen idols of that era and never got the respect he deserves.



Peter Frampton today...
Let's set the record straight once and for all: there's never been a better rock guitarist than Peter. Ever. He's also a tremendous songwriter and underrated singer. And he's a true performer who connects with and loves his audience. 

I was 15 when Frampton Comes Alive! came out, and it quickly became the soundtrack to my life. Like a lot of other 15-year-old boys in 1976, I wanted to be Peter Frampton. Who doesn't want to be a guitar God? Girls loved him, but guys also thought he was cool. 


Cameron Crowe, my favorite rock music writer and one my my favorite filmmakers, was one scribe who recognized Peter's greatness. He wrote the liner notes to Frampton Comes Alive! Nearly 25 years later Peter returned the favor by serving as a technical advisor for Crowe's poignant, autobiographical film Almost Famous. Peter co-wrote several songs for the film and appears briefly in the movie as 'Reg', a road manager for Humble Pie, the real-life band Peter co-founded. 


Meanwhile, back in the 70's - the super summer of '76, to be more specific. Remember all those Bicentennial Minutes? Anyway, there 
I was, just a skinny blonde kid who loved two things - sports and music - standing alone in my room rocking out on my guitar to Peter's Show Me the Way, the ultimate summer radio song. At that moment, how could I have even imagined that one day Peter Frampton would play lead guitar on a song that I sang and wrote?


If you would have told me this in high school, I would have told you that you'd had too many beers or too many bong hits. Or both.


Well, fast forward about 30 years to when I was recording my Survivors' Songs album. When I entered the studio to start cutting the rhythm tracks, I decided to try to recruit some of my musical heroes to play with me on these new songs.


It was an album whose purpose was to inspire my fellow cancer patients and survivors around the world to keep fighting, and I wanted to get some big music stars on board to salute all cancer patients and their loved ones.


So I reached out to Peter's management, who then relayed the message to Peter. And to my shock and joy, he agreed to listen to the track. Evidently he liked it, because he agreed to play lead guitar on the song, which is the album's title track and is my rocking anthem for survivors of all kinds. 


Peter even employed his classic wah-wah pedal sound on the song, which was a nice touch. I had a big smile on my face as I sat in the music studio of my buddy and co-producer Josquin Des Pres as we listened together to Peter's guitar tracks. He nailed it. As always.


Peter even sent me a very kind letter afterward in which he said, "Jamie, I hope this is OK. I thought the wah-wah lent itself to the vibe perfectly." It did, Peter. It did. I have that letter framed and hanging here on my office wall.


I'm proud to say that tens of thousands of cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones have heard that song. We were able to send out thousands of copies of the record to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, every chapter. All thanks to Peter, who is without question the nicest person I have ever met in the music business. A true English gentleman.


And here's the best news: Peter is still wowing audiences all over the world. Lately he's been knocking fans' socks off with a three-hour show that includes a performance of Framptom Comes Alive! in its entirety, along with cuts from his Grammy Award-winning 2006 instrumental album Fingerprints. He also recently appeared on The Voice singing another of his classics, Baby, I Love Your Way, as a duet with Terry McDermott.


Recording a song with Peter was one of the highlights of my foray into the music business. Because of Peter, I guess you could say I'm almost famous. Thanks, Peter, for making one grown-up kid very happy.

10 comments:

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  2. Jamie:

    Great post. Peter is great. It's good to know he's just like the rest of us, a regular guy. Rock on, my friend.

    John Cook

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    1. Thanks John. That is definitely the plan.

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  3. Jamie,

    You have no idea the memories this Dispatch has brought back to me. In 1976 My husband and I started fostering a teenage girl who was pregnant and had been kicked out of her home by her parents. She was only 16, and two months pregnant. During the pregnancy, we did our best to keep her "down on the farm" and help her change direction. She gave birth, gave the baby up for adoption, and then lived with us for a year afterwards. She IMMEDIATELY became a normal teenager after the birth, and we had our hands full! We had 6 kids of our own at the time, 5 of whom were girls -- and who just sat googly eyed watching her fix her hair and makeup, etc. She was a raging Peter Frampton fan, so us "old people" got brought up to speed quickly. :- ) Within a couple of months, she had a boyfriend, a Frampton wanna-be. His hair was even wilder than Frampton's and my kids all called him "Lion-Head". That's been a running joke in our family for years. Every time I think of Tammy and our efforts to get her to conform to OUR lifestyle, I immediately segue into thoughts of Frampton and Lion-Head -- forever joined at the hip in my head! Just watched "Show Me the Way". How come he's cuter now when I watch him! :-)

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  4. Replies
    1. thank you, leslie, so glad you liked it!

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