Peter Frampton is yet another one of the many persons who came from the United Kingdom and made great music in the blues rock vein. You wouldn't say he was from the first wave of what was known as the British Invasion. He's more like a second wave guy from that bit of a musical and cultural movement.
Peter is still alive and well. You can still catch a show of his, if you pay attention and buy the ticket. You'll get to hear a lot of great classic rock memories, and maybe some new songs too. Frampton's music has always struck me as pretty upbeat. He exudes positivity instead of negativity. I suppose it's all a matter of what you relate to and find useful.
Peter got interested in music, and got started playing stringed instruments at the very young ate of seven years. One need not start off so very young, but gosh dang it all, it sure does help when it happens. His father was head instructor over an arts department. No doubt there was lots of music being played in the Frampton home.
By the age of 8 Peter was taking lessons in classical music. You simply don't go wrong in such an endeavor, not now, not then, not ever. Music is a language and an art form at the same time. Besides that early education experience, there was the music of groups such as The Beatles. Then Peter's father turned him on to some very serious swinging jazz in the music of the Hot Club, and Django Reinhardt.
It's challenging to learn to play a musical instrument well. It takes a lot of dedication and a huge time investment, even for persons with a lot of natural talent for it. After that, there is yet another monster sized hurdle, and that is playing said instrument in front of an audience. For some people this isn't much of a worry, but for others, it is a huge fear. Peter started playing in a band at the young age of 12, so he mastered that particular thing early on.
He also became well acquainted with another fella by the name of David Bowie. They went to the same school, though Bowie was three years ahead of Peter. Getting to know persons like that at a young age is a significant advantage. Peter was already a very good singer at the age when an American can get a driver's license. At 16 years he had some British pop music hits.
As a young man he had another advantage, as he was thought to be rather photogenic. At 18 years he was on the cover of teen pop magazines. Soon he'd be a member of the band Humble Pie. Frampton was a hit.
Peter was one of the founders of Humble Pie while a very young adult, but the band was not the only music he was a part of. He'd be a sessions player, and for some notable persons too. Jerry Lee Lewis and George Harrison both would employ him, and aren't those two persons with very different styles of music? Indeed they are. Frampton was studied in multiple genres of music making.
Two significant things would happen during the Humble Pie years that would impact Peter's style in the years to come. He'd find his dream guitar, a Gibson Les Paul Custom, and he'd learn to use the 'talk box.' What is a talk box? It is an effects unit of hardware allowing a musician to modify the sound of their instrument to where it sounds rather like someone talking.
The Les Paul, oddly enough, was a gift. Would that we all had friends who'd give us a Gibson Les Paul Custom! After a bad night on stage where Peter had fought with a lesser guitar, someone gave him the Gibson, and it would become like a part of him. An additional appendage to his body.
Embarking on a solo career in 1971, our Peter would see little commercial success for his first few albums. In 1975 he recorded a live album in San Francisco in a venue where Humble Pie had had success. Released in 1976, Frampton Comes Alive! would become what Peter has always been remembered the most for. The album would sell eight million copies and counting. His shirtless photo would be seen everywhere, including the cover of Rolling Stone. Peter would later regret the image contributed to him being seen as a teen idol instead of a serious musician.
The next studio album by Peter Frampton would be a hit, but it would be thought a failure in comparison to hopes and expectations, and to the infamous live album. A near fatal car crash in 1978 would put the long and hard touring singer and guitarist out of commission for a while.
1980 saw Peter release a new studio album, but this is where the story of the Les Paul Custom gets interesting. Peter's cargo plane, taking off from an airport in Venezuela would crash. Frampton thought all of his gear had been destroyed, and for the most part, he was right. The Les Paul Custom, however, Peter's prized guitar, the one guitar he used during every recording and performance, it would be seen among the wreckage by a pragmatic local, and stowed away to be sold to another local.
It would be the late in the year 2011 when the guitar would, as though guided by forces unseen, finally find its way back home to Peter, its rightful lord, master, and owner.
Now the Gibson Les Paul Custom was sold with either two or three pickups in the 1950s, and the guitar Peter owned, and loved was one of those. The guitar was modified, however, with the addition of the third pickup. It wasn't born as a three pickup Les Paul Custom, and so its wiring scheme is different from a LP Custom from the factory with 3 pups. Peter's guitar has the middle pickup wired hot, meaning it is on, at all times.
Now there are not one, but two recreations of the Peter Frampton Les Paul Custom guitar available from Gibson. These guitars are anything but cheap, and they are nowhere near inexpensive. The first guitar is a recreation of Peter's before the plane crash, and the second, vastly more expensive, and autographed, is a recreation of the same guitar after the plane crash.
Gibson goes went over Peter's guitar with very expensive digital equipment. The guitar's scratches, dings, and every last detail are recreated as exactly as human technology and skill allow for. I'm speaking of the second version, the 'Phenix,' of course. Myself, I'd prefer the simpler Gibson Custom Shop Peter Frampton Les Paul Custom. It's not autographed, and it is for all the world a nice new LP Custom, with no dings, dents, runs, drips or errors.
All the hardware here is plated in gold. I'm talking either version of the Frampton LP. Also, either way you get three '57 Classic humbuckers. The '57 Classics are supposed to be the best replications of the original Seth Lover 'Patent Applied For' pickups available. They are sprinkled with magic fairy dust, of course.
The first guitar is over five thousand dollars. The second, the 'Phenix,' over twenty thousand. Hey, I can't imagine having that kind of disposable income, but there are people in this world who do. Either guitar is one of only a few Gibson Les Paul Custom guitars made with 3 humbucking pickups made in recent years.