There’s an element of truth to Wayne Campbell’s declaration in the movie Wayne’s World 2 that “Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive! If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide.”
Frampton Comes Alive! was Peter Frampton’s 1976 smash live double album, which sold millions of copies and established him as a superstar.
While that album was the high point of his career, he has also had other notable successes — before “coming alive,” he had hit songs with The Herd (the U.K. hit “I Don’t Want Our Loving to Die”) and Humble Pie (“Natural Born Bugie,” “I Don’t Need No Doctor”).
Afterward he released the Grammy Award-winning instrumental album Fingerprints and has been on many successful tours, including the Frampton Comes Alive! 35 tour that stopped at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2011.
Now we have a chance to see Frampton come alive in Santa Barbara’s more intimate Lobero Theatre, where he’ll be Sunday for the Fifth Annual Notes For Notes Benefit Concert.
Notes For Notes has the admirable mission of providing musical instruments, instruction and facilities to young musicians, and Santa Barbara’s guitar pickup guru and Notes For Notes patron saint Seymour Duncan also will be on hand for the Frampton show.
Frampton talked to Noozhawk about his previous and his upcoming visits to Santa Barbara. Click here to read the full interview — with Frampton’s take on the talk box, B.B. King, Humble Pie and his relationship with cellphones.
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Jeff Moehlis: I enjoyed seeing you in Santa Barbara a few years ago when you were here for the Frampton Comes Alive! 35 concert.
Peter Frampton: Thank you. Yeah, that was a wonderful tour.
JM: Was it fun for you to revisit that album?
PF: Yes. It was the first time I had done it in its entirety — ever, I think — because even in the days right after (Frampton) Comes Alive!, we never did the whole thing. We left out a number here or there.
But we just about did everything, I think, on FCA 35. It was something that I wanted to do, and I also wanted to not just do that. That’s when we did (Frampton Comes Alive!) first, and we just went straight through and did another hour and 15 of everything that I wanted to do after that. So there was stuff from Fingerprints, and the best of the other records.
They got what they wanted, the audience, and then I brought them up to date. I thought it was a very nice way of doing it, and it was a great success.
JM: Do you have any thoughts on what the magic ingredients were that made that album strike such a chord with the public?
PF: It’s something that you can’t see, smell or feel (laughs). Who knows, really? I can only surmise and put my best effort into thinking about what it could be. I’ve had some time to think about that — like about 40 years.
I think there’s something that happens for me and for a lot of performers, that when they go onstage there’s something that they can’t bring to the studio, and they can’t bring to the living room when they’re writing.
So you’ve got the goods — when you’ve got some great songs and you’ve got a great band — then you go and you play them, a lot of acts will want to play them exactly like the record every night. Which I think is great for them, boring for me.
So Comes Alive! was that way that one night. The solos were always different every night, and the lengths of the songs change depending on how inspired we all are, when we play off each other. It’s more of the ad lib side that I enjoy.
But on top of that, I think there’s something in the communication that I have with an audience, that you can hear it and feel it when you listen to that record. There’s something about that record that when you put it on it makes you smile.
And I don’t know why. I just get such such a high, and always have, from playing in front of an audience. It’s a privilege to be able to do that. And that they love it so much, it’s a feedback thing. It feeds back more and more and more and more as the show builds.
It’s that indefinable thing. I remember when I played it for a friend of mine before it came out, and I just watched him smile as he was listening. He said, “This is really good!” And then a lot of other people said that (laughs).
Then more people than I could ever dream said, “Oh, this is pretty good!”
The answer is, I have no idea (laughs). I have no idea what it is, but it’s definitely something where my enjoyment shines through. I think that’s what it is.
JM: What can people look forward to at your upcoming concert at the Lobero Theatre?
PF: That’s for Seymour (Duncan)’s Notes For Notes. We’ve been trying to do this — he’s asked us every year — and we’d already booked the date. So we told him this time, “Tell us when it is, and we’ll book around you.” So it’s his fifth anniversary.
Seymour and I have worked together for many years on pickups. I’ve got them in loads of my guitars, and he’s a dear friend. It’s funny because he started his life in Cincinnati, and I lived up there for 18 years. He started on local TV up there in Cincinnati, and ended up being one of the world’s greatest pickup makers.
It’s just been overdue, and I’ve been looking forward to doing this for him for so long. We’re finally doing it. And he’ll come up and jam with us and play guitar with me, and that’ll be so much fun because he’s a dear friend.
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Click here to read the full interview with Peter Frampton, who performs Sunday at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido. Click here to purchase tickets online.
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.