Five Revelations About "Frampton Comes Alive"

Peter Frampton was an English pop star when he was a teenager in England, rising to fame in a band called the Herd.  He left to co-found Humble Pie with singer Steve Marriot in 1969.  After just three years, Frampton departed the Pie just as its "Rockin' the Fillmore" live album kicked the group into high gear in America.  The singer/songwriter/guitarist didn't prefer the hard-rock direction the band was heading towards, opting instead to release a lighter textured solo album called "Wind of Change."  The record didn't sell so well, but established Peter Frampton as an artist in his own right, with help from Ringo Starr, future Foreigner founder Mick Jones, and Billy Preston.

Frampton would tough it out for three more solo albums and a lot of touring over the next three years, achieving the status of an FM radio staple who could fill most large clubs and maybe the odd theater or two.  But "Frampton Comes alive" changed all that.  Just as a double-live album had changed the fortunes of his former band Humble Pie, the 1976 release became a surprise winner.  In three months it had advanced to #1 in America and was in the process of spawning three massive hit singles: "Baby, I Love Your Way," "Show Me the Way", and "Do You Feel Like we Do?"   

"Frampton Comes Alive" remains a staple of classic rock radio four decades later and Peter Frampton would be hard-pressed to not include those three Top 20 singles in any show.   After taking a few years off at the end of 1989 and then coming out of retirement in '92, Frampton has been a regular on the road and as an album artist, returning to record several new solo albums and live collections.  This summer finds him on an extensive tour with fellow 70's superstar Steve Miller.

Now, here are five things you probably didn't know about "Frampton Comes Alive."  

5.)  IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE A SINGLE ALBUM.  But, A & M Records suggested Frampton add the second disc, an unusual occurrence since record labels are always trying to save money.  The original disc had one side taken up by the two longer songs: the full-length "Do You Feel Like We Do" and "Lines on My Face."  But the additional disc allowed Frampton to add more of his shorter songs with two future hit singles among them. 

4.)  THE STUDIO VERSIONS OF BOTH "SHOW ME THE WAY" AND "BABY, I LOVE YOUR WAY" WERE RELEASED A YEAR EARLIER AND STIFFED.  In 1975, the "Frampton" studio album was released, reaching a respectable #32 on the U.S. chart and selling Gold.  However, the two studio singles both failed to even hit the chart despite sounding identical to their later live counterparts.  The live "Baby, I Love Your Way" would get to #12 and "Show Me the Way" to #6. 

3.   "FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE" SAVED THE CLASSIC ROCKER FROM POSSIBLE BANKRUPTCY.  After his fourth solo album, Peter Frampton was in debt to his manager to the tune of $80,000, although "People" magazine reported in 1976 that it was to the tune of a quarter million (and those are 70's dollars!)

2.   AFTER ITS 10-WEEK RUN AT #1, THE DOUBLE ALBUM WOULD RETURN TO #1 LATER IN THE YEAR, LOGGING A TOTAL OF 17-WEEKS IN THE TOP SPOT.  At one time or another, "The Eagles Greatest Hits," Led Zeppelin's "Presence," "Black and Blue" from the Stones, and "Wings at the Speed of Sound" would depose it, but "Frampton Comes Alive" always bounced back to #1.  Finally in November 1976, Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" took over for its own reign.     

1.  Before "Frampton Comes Alive," the guitarist was typically being paid $1500 a night for gigs.  The live album would certainly change that!  



 

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