This article appears in the Spring 2023 issue of CREEM. Get your copy now.
When I caught up with the legendary Peter Frampton in September 2019, it was at a sold-out show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden—a venue he hadn’t headlined since 1977. He was in amazing form, boosted no doubt by a raucous response from the crowd, who demanded several lengthy encores. After a long and heartfelt goodbye from the stage, Frampton was gone and countless tears filled the legendary cavernous space, no doubt due to the news that he may not play that space, or any other in the U.S., ever again. “There’ll come a time, probably pretty soon, when I won’t be able to play, at least not at the level that I demand of myself,” Frampton told me at the time, almost matter-of-factly and certainly without a hint of self-pity.
During the 1970s, Peter Frampton graced the pages of CREEM countless times. The band that introduced him to America, Humble Pie, not to mention his solo albums Wind of Change, Frampton’s Camel, Somethin’s Happening, and Frampton, made him the darling of the rock cognoscenti. In 1976, his live album, Frampton Comes Alive!, brought him global superstardom. Ups and downs followed—covered in detail in his 2020 memoir, Do You Feel Like I Do?—but by the ’00s a true career renaissance had occurred. Frampton won a Grammy for his instrumental album Fingerprints and toured relentlessly, celebrating anniversaries of Frampton Comes Alive! and winning over fans both old and new with the warmth exhibited at his live shows and, of course, with his remarkable guitar chops.
Along the way, Frampton occasionally felt numbness in his fingers and dizziness on stage. After seeing countless specialists, he was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), a degenerative muscular disease. Though not a life threatening ailment, it meant that eventually Frampton’s mobility would become limited and, crucially, that in the not-too-distant future, he’d no longer be able to play the guitar. He stockpiled recordings and set out on a massive victory lap of a tour of America, including said MSG gig, and European dates culminating in a homecoming gig at the Royal Albert Hall.