PETER FRAMPTON: 32-Year Journey Is Complete
Peter Frampton did something Saturday night he hasn't done in more than 31 years, and, thought he would never do again -- he played his 1954 Gibson Les Paul in concert, the one featured on the cover of Frampton Comes Alive. Thought to have been lost forever in November 1980 when a cargo plane carrying it and the rest of his band's gear crashed in Caracas, Venezuela, the guitar was returned to Frampton in December, electronically restored by Gibson, and was unveiled at New York's Beacon Theatre during a stop on his Frampton Comes Alive 35th anniversary tour. Frampton told Gibson he wanted it "playable," but that it "must retain its battle scars."
With the stage dark, a lone white spotlight shined on the worn guitar just before Frampton did the final song off that legendary album, "Do You Feel Like We Do." He then walked up to it while the photo of his reunion with it in December was shown on the video screen along with those of it being repaired. He then explained that he had an emotional call just before the show with its original owner, Marc Mariana, who gave him the guitar in 1970 in San Francisco while he (Frampton) was in Humble Pie. The guitar made a few more appearances later in the show, including, appropriately enough, during the last song of the night, his cover of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The show, which also featured an appearance by his son Julian, was filmed for a DVD with plans to release it in the fall.
Frampton had to leave right after the show for last night's stop in Washington, D.C., but we had an email exchange with him yesterday regarding what it was like to play the guitar again. "Unbelievable and very emotional," wrote Frampton. "So much so that I screwed up the first lick to 'Do You Feel' -- and how many times have I played that?! She was testing me - my dear old friend, 'The Phoenix.' Other than that, it was like I remember it -- silky smooth with a feel and a sound only she and I can make."
And your thoughts when you strapped her on?
"'Whatever you do don't screw up!' Joking aside, pure joy! There is no other Les Paul that sounds like it. I'm not saying it's the best Les Paul in the world, but it's the most important guitar to me. I formulated my guitar style with this guitar. Humble Pie's Rockin' the Filmore was when I first felt good about where I was as a player. And it was with this guitar. To have it back now is quite extraordinary."
Did it play as well as you remembered it or better?
"It plays great, but we are still getting to know each other again. It's her sweet tone that I have missed so much. This is a dream I never bothered to dream. How did this happen? Amazing! We have a lot of catching up to do. I am way beyond being thankful."
Frampton is in Newark, Ohio tomorrow night.