It’s no coincidence that Peter Frampton started working on his memoir last October.
That same month, he brought the U.S. leg of his Finale – The Farewell Tour to a bittersweet conclusion with a final stop near San Francisco where he famously recorded “Frampton Comes Alive,” an eight-times-platinum breakthrough that remains one of the biggest-selling live recordings of all time, reports the Arizona Republic, a USA TODAY Network publication.
That made it an especially reflective time for Frampton, whose decision to retire from the road had been hastened by medical reasons – a progressive muscular disorder called inclusion body myositis that’s characterized by muscle inflammation, weakness and atrophy.
The idea, as Frampton explained at the time, was to say goodbye while he could still deliver on guitar.
A year later, he’s asked how it feels to have written a memoir.
“I’m not sure,” he replies with a laugh. “It’s like my life is an open book for all to read. So I’m not quite sure if I’m thrilled or not.”
Frampton always thought he’d write a memoir
He laughs again, as he often does in the course of a conversation that lasts more than 25 minutes, before clarifying that he’s joking and writing a memoir is actually something he always imagined he would get around to someday.
“And then, because of the onset of my IBM and the Finale tour all sort of coming at once, I thought that it would possibly be a good time to do it, because we’ve reached a milestone. It seemed like a good time to sit down. Who knows what goes from here?”
He has no plans to stop recording or writing new music. And he’s hoping to begin the next leg of Finale – The Farewell Tour as soon as it’s safe to reschedule the dates he was forced to postpone due to COVID-19 in the U.K., Europe and South America.
What “really hit home,” Frampton says, was having to postpone what would have been his first headlining concert ever at the Royal Albert Hall in May.
“And as you do, I hadn’t taken out all the dates in my calendar,” Frampton recalls. “So every day the European tour was going by, it would come up ‘Paris!’ ‘Manchester!’ And then ‘London, Albert Hall!’ I mean, the whole band called each other that day to commiserate ‘Ohhhh, we should be at the Albert Hall.'”
As upsetting as it was to see those plans fall through, though, Frampton says, “I can’t feel that upset about something where so many people have lost their lives, you know. It’s insane where we’re at.”
Why he’s not in a hurry to get back on the road
At this point, he can even see the humor in his tour plans having fallen by the wayside.
“When I said ‘I’m not gonna tour anymore,’ I didn’t actually say at the same time, ‘And nobody else can tour, either,'” he says, with a laugh. “That wasn’t my intention. But it seemed to happen that way.”
As much as he would like to get back out there and perform, he doesn’t think we should be rushing into bringing concerts back.
“Anyone that’s doing any sort of touring right now,” he says, “I think, is on the edge of being dangerous. I don’t believe in any gatherings of any amount of people, especially in this country when we’re on the uptick again.”
The isolation that comes with being stuck at home all year isn’t much different, he says, than the life he’s come to know on tour.
“Usually, we live an isolated kind of life — or I do — on the road,” he says.
“We get on the bus after the gig, we go to the next hotel, we go to sleep, we wake up in time to have breakfast and maybe some lunch and then my tour manager comes and gets me and takes me to the soundcheck.”
To be clear, he has been staying in and social distancing.
“Because I’m 70 and because I have the IBM, I don’t go out much,” he says. “I’m pretty much following the scientists and keeping to myself. I did have to go to Johns Hopkins for a new therapy last week, Monday and Tuesday. And I had my first COVID test yesterday. I’m waiting. I’m sure I’m fine. But they’re so careful at Johns Hopkins.”
Why the last tour was so emotional
His Finale – The Farewell Tour was a very emotional chapter in his life.
“Each night was very enjoyable because of the playing,” he says. “And to see people that hadn’t seen me since the ‘Comes Alive’ tour and those people that had been turned on to me in the interim — you know, the 50 years or whatever. The different age groups of the audience blew us away.”
The outpouring of love Frampton felt from that audience night after night was overwhelming.
“Each night at the end was when I lost it,” he says.
“I couldn’t help it. As I would say every night, ‘I’m gonna wave but I’m not gonna say goodbye.’ Then I would turn my back on the audience and there were tears just about every night, because they kept me on that stage for so long each night, and I could hardly calm them down to say ‘Good night.’ So it was, oh my God, it was overwhelming in a wonderful way. And I’ll never forget it.”
It’s pointed out that in addition to the bittersweet emotion that comes with a farewell tour, there was a palpable, contagious sense of joy in Frampton’s energy as he performed.
“That’s my special place, is on stage,” Frampton says. “I make good records, but there’s something about the added whatever it is that I give on stage. Some people are just more performers than anything else. I think even my playing is the best when I’m playing live, because there’s no inhibitions and I’m being cheered on. What better position to be in as a player than when you have people that you know are waiting for the next licks? It’s phenomenal. I can’t thank everybody enough.”
‘Do You Feel Like I Do?’ the memoir
Frampton titled the book “Do You Feel Like I Do?” in tribute to one of the defining tracks on “Frampton Comes Alive,” “Do You Feel Like We Do,” which features an extended talk-box solo and the classic line, “Woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand/Whose wine?/What wine?/Where the hell did I dine?”
It’s a fascinating read that takes you at a steady clip from Frampton’s childhood memories through his days as a teen prodigy to the moment he first realized being cute could be the bane of his existence, meeting Jimi Hendrix, forming Humble Pie, cutting “Frampton Comes Alive” and every high and low along the way to his farewell tour.
There are also countless anecdotes involving Frampton’s famous friends, from David Bowie to the Beatles, with Rolling Stones bassist Billy Wyman playing the teen guitar hero’s musical wingman of sorts and members of the Who dangling the teen by his ankles from a fourth-story dressing room.
The approach Frampton took (with music journalist Alan Light as his collaborator) was based on the feeling he got from reading British actor David Niven’s memoir, “The Moon is a Balloon.”
“Just the way he dealt with things in a humorous way,” Frampton says. “He was obviously a well-loved person in the business for so many years. And yeah, I guess he dissed a couple people, but it wasn’t like, a put-down book at all. It was just his journey of doing what he was able to do for his entire life.”
How writing the book gave him perspective
Frampton even gained some fresh perspective on what makes him tick along the way.
“I’ve had this resilience, which I firmly believe I was born with,” Frampton says.
“I’ve always been able to pick myself up and brush myself off and start again. Today is a good day to start again. Always. We all have our battles. We’re all human, no matter what level we’re on. And so, I think I learned that my perseverance is something I admire in myself.”
He also realized he’s always been driven by the feeling that he’s never as good as he could be.
“Whether it be songwriting, singing, playing, recording, whatever, I’ve always felt I can do better,” he says. “I feel like, ‘Oh, that was a good show I did early on in my life.’ And then, I see someone playing guitar on TV, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s jaw dropping. And it pushed me all the time to try and be better. I thought ‘Well, I can’t do that bit he’s doing. I’d better learn how to do that. I’m not good enough. I can be better than this.”
As to whether there were aspects of his life that were hard to relive for the purpose of sharing in a memoir, Frampton doesn’t have to mull it over.
“Anything about my children,” he says, especially the section about getting his son Julian into treatment at Sierra Tucson.
“I worked with my son on making sure that what I said was okay with him, because he is successful in my mind right now,” Frampton says.
“He’s turned his life completely around. He’s got a wonderful fiancee, an apartment. He’s writing, he’s got a band. He’s got all sorts of projects on the go and maybe a publishing deal coming up very soon. So whatever we went through was worth it.”
That’s how we learn, Frampton says.
“I’ve learned so much from my mistakes. Those are the things that drive me to become a better person along the way. And my son has that, too, in him. So I’ve had my problems. He’s had his problems. I was already sober by the time he had his problems, and we dealt with it together.”
He actually feels closer to his kids than ever now that he’s not touring all the time.
“I’ve been talking to them just about every day,” he says. “I have this wonderful grandchild that I haven’t seen but I’m going to see in November. The family’s doing really well and I feel for the first time in my life that I’m a real dad and I’m there for everybody when they need me.”‘
“Do You Feel Like I Do?” is out Oct. 20 on Hachette Books.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID book:Hits shelves amid growing virus cases. Here’s what he writes.
Follow Ed Masley on Twitter: @EdMasley.