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Rock musician Peter Frampton turns sixty-eight today and I was thinking- how many artists are remembered mostly for a live album? The only other performer I can think of at the moment would be Richie Havens who when I think of him I immediately think of his epic opening performance at Woodstock.

Peter Frampton before 1976’s “Frampton Comes Alive!” album was known as a member of Humble Pie and had released four solo albums to that point. He hadn’t had a hit single. His 1975 album Frampton was his greatest success reaching #32 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. That album did contain two songs which would become the showcase for Frampton Comes Alive– Show Me The Way and Baby I Love Your Way.

Frampton Comes Alive!  which is a double album was released on January 6, 1976 and debuted at #191 on the Top 200 but then it caught fire and on April 10th it was #1 and would stay at #1 for ten weeks. It would go on to become the best selling album of 1976 with 8 million sold. It has to date sold around 11 million worldwide.

There were three hit singles from the album in the US-“Baby I Love Your Way” #12, “Do You Feel Like We Do” #10 and “Show Me The Way”# 6.

Coming off this great success Frampton released in early 1977 his next studio album “I’m In You” with the dreadful single of the same name. Both the album went to #1 and the song reached #2 but the song which would later be parodied by Frank Zappa- was laughable and I think that and especially Frampton’s participation in the dumpster fire movie “Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” stop all momentum that “Frampton Comes Alive!” had built.

His next two albums continued his fall- Where I Should Be peaked at #28 in 1979 and Breaking All The Rules in 1981 peaked at #42 and although he had made albums since none have gotten much attention not even 1996’s sad attempt at recapturing the magic “Frampton Comes Alive II” He has made a living in the past 35 years though as a session musician and he turns up now and then on tour or touring with someone else. Maybe in the end he was just a capable musician who struck magic once but didn’t have the songwriting chops for a long run at it. One thing for certain that one album has put a lot of food on the table in the past forty-two years. Good for him.

My friend Martin a few years ago was raving on and on about Frampton [after seeing a feature on him on the Sunday Morning Show} and I tried to talk sense into him. Fast forward to a couple months ago. We were hitting some record stores in Pittsburgh and there was Frampton Comes Alive! in vinyl for $5. I pointed it out several times to him since he doesn’t own the album- he wasn’t interested and seemed somewhat embarrassed by my bringing it up.  I along with millions did buy the album back in the late 70’s- it’s nice but I don’t find it anything special. I remember it mostly as a moment in time, one of those events you remember an era by-in this case the 1970’s.


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  1. While I wouldn’t call myself a Peter Frampton fan, I like some of his songs and this album. I think he is sometimes underrated. Post “Frampton Comes Alive” part of his challenge was that he ended up on posters in many teenage bedrooms, so the critics dismissed him as a “child star,” rather than a serious musician.

    • Very good point- I just wrote a response to Introgroove about the cover of I’m In You- I think the bottom line in all of it- he could have survived the missteps like Sgt Pepper had he come up with better songs.

  2. I hesitate to try to make such a comparison – if ONLY I had a smidgen of their talent – but off the top of my head, maybe Joe Cocker, though with him it would be two live albums: Woodstock and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. A number of years back I put together a playlist of studio Frampton songs, most of which ended up on Frampton Comes Alive. I’m not sure why they weren’t better received as I feel they stand on their own merits, plus if you add his involvement with Humble Pie he should’ve been more popular. I saw him at the House of Blues a few years ago and he was great. He seems to genuinely enjoy playing.

    • I hadn’t thought of Joe Cocker- good one .
      I think people wanted to like Peter Frampton- he was popular with that album. Just another thought- he was a serious musician no question but that album cover of I”m In You- makes me think of an album cover that a ‘teen idol’ would do. A number of career missteps I think but glad to see he is still around and enjoying what he’s doing.

  3. Good point about the live album. I hadn’t thought of that. The only other breakthrough I could think of off the top of my head — outside of Frampton, Woodstock, etc — is when Cheap Trick broke through with their single “I Want You To Want Me.” But, that’s nowhere near the same scale as “Frampton Comes Alive.”

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