Peter Frampton is able to look back at his life and career without much bitterness — but with a lot of appreciation. On January 26th, Frampton will receive the coveted Les Paul Innovation Award in Anaheim, California at the 34th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards. During a chat with Yahoo, he recalled the disastrous move to rush-release his 1977 album I'm In You into the stores, while his chart-topping blockbuster Frampton Comes Alive double album was still breaking sales records after spending a whopping 42 weeks in the Top 10.
Frampton feels that the speed to write, record, and release I'm In You left him over-saturated. He recalled the predicament he faced at the time: “I think that there would have been a lot to be said for not releasing the follow-up album. That’s my main thing that I always say. We didn’t need to release I’m In You for a good three, four years. Everybody rushed me. I was young, 25 or 26, and I was indebted to everyone, I thought, around me who knew best, because they had handled big artists before. But to be honest, I was the only person that knew, because no one had been where I was. It was the biggest-selling album of all time when it came out. I was the biggest act in the world, and the old rules kind of go out the window there. You’re only as good as your last record, so don’t release one until it’s good — and that adage wasn’t followed. And I think the combination of the (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) movie and that was the reason for the downfall, definitely.”
Peter Frampton attempted a comeback in 1986, signing with Atlantic and releasing the well-received Premonition collection, which stalled on the charts at Number 80. He toured that year opening for Stevie Nicks, when David Bowie, his high school buddy from Bromley Technical School back in England, came calling: “I had not been touring in the ’80s — I had stopped in like ’82, I think — and David called me up. We went to school together, and we had been friends ever since then. He said, 'I love your new record. Come and play some of that guitar for me on my next record.' I said, 'You’re kidding me! It took you long enough!' So yeah, I went and did the record, and then while I was in Switzerland where we were, he asked me to do the 'Glass Spider' tour, and it took me about two-tenths of a second to say yes. . . We had such a long history together, and it was a giant gift he gave me. I’ve never stopped thanking him, and I still do to this day.”
Frampton credits Bowie for reminding the world of the musical talent that led to his fame in the first place, explaining, “He knew what had happened. He saw me, the musician, because he knew me, Peter, the guitar player. He didn’t know Peter the teeny-bopper star. So when he saw all that happening to me, and there was a major downswing in my career, I think that’s when he realized that 'people need to know the truth about Peter.' He could have chosen anybody (to play guitar for him), but he called me. He took me around the world in stadiums and reintroduced me as the guitar player. You can’t thank someone enough for that, especially David. It was definitely a turning point for me.”
One of the highlights of both Frampton's recent Acoustic Classics album and his critically acclaimed RAW acoustic dates was the sole keyboard song of the night, a dramatic near solo reading of 1977's “I'm In You.” Despite his Frampton Comes Alive singles gaining more airplay over the years on classic rock radio, “I'm In You” remains Frampton's biggest charting hit, peaking at Number Two during the summer of '77.
Although the original track featured Frampton on piano, keyboards, drums and guitar — back in the day Frampton closed his shows at the time singing with a handheld mic as the late, great Bob Mayo handled the piano. Frampton has periodically included the song in his setlists over the years, but has never really given his evergreen ballad its proper due — until recently. We asked him why: “When I wrote the song, I felt it was a good song — one of the best songs I'd written — and was very excited about the song until. . . I associate 'I'm In You' with the period (laughs). It unfortunately gets my blame. But then, so many people; musicians that I play with in the band, or people that I know, will just go, 'Y'know, that's a great song — don't you do that live?' And I said, 'Well, uh, not really.' And it is a good song and I'm proud of it and do enjoy performing it just playing it on piano. And Gordon plays a delicious acoustic solo — and why not, y'know? I realize it's a good song, people do like it.”
Peter Frampton's next scheduled show is set for July 13th in Minesing, Ontario at the Roxodus Music Fest.