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Frampton: 'It's been a journey'


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Peter Frampton

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Kyra Phillips
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Peter Frampton

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Rock musician Peter Frampton's double LP, "Frampton Comes Alive," was released in 1976 and sold more copies than any other live album in history. Now he is back with the big sound in his new CD called "Now."

Frampton, whose hair was almost as famous and nearly as big as Farrah Fawcett's in the 1970s, sat down with CNN anchor Kyra Phillips to talk about his new look and new album.

PHILLIPS: Did you have like a special posse that took care of the do?

FRAMPTON: No, it was just I woke up and that's the way it looked. I was blessed, I guess. No, I had one perm, and then realized that I didn't ever have another one, and it was always -- we were always straightening my hair, you know, in the early days.

PHILLIPS: You had the perm.

FRAMPTON: Yes, I did have the perm and very early highlights.

PHILLIPS: You are on the cutting edge, absolutely.

All right, we got to talk about grandma here, and you're hunting through the attic, and you come across the banjolele. I hope I'm saying that, right?

FRAMPTON: You are, yes.

PHILLIPS: OK, this is where it all began?

FRAMPTON: Yes, I went up to the attic. Dad and I were getting down the suitcases to go on some holiday, and there was this little instrument box, and I said, what's that? And I was 7 at the time and dad said that's your grandmother's banjolele. It's like a banjo-shaped ukulele. So we got it down, and got it out, and he played something, you know, you know just something very, very -- two chords, you know, and that was it. Once I picked that up, there was -- I wanted to learn "Michael Rowed the Boat [Ashore]" next, I think.

PHILLIPS: And "Mary Had a Little Lamb." That's when the deep lyrics starting coming out, right?

FRAMPTON: Yes. Exactly, yes.

PHILLIPS: What's the biggest difference you would say between Peter Frampton then and Peter Frampton now?

FRAMPTON: Well, I mean, if you're talking about the '70s, or are you talking about when I first started to play?

PHILLIPS: Let's go to the '70s, because that's when we really started to hear a lot about you.

FRAMPTON: Basically, having had that huge album it definitely gave me a bigger success than I ever could have dreamed of, and it's given me a place from which I can tour, make records, and hopefully for the rest of my life, you know, do exactly what I want to do. And it's been a wonderful change. Obviously, it's the success, new big, when you first hit it and you're on the front cover of all the magazines and everything, it's a very heavy experience.

PHILLIPS: And everybody's in charge of you. Now you're in charge of the whole gig. You got the whole studio in your basement.

FRAMPTON: It's sort of gone right back. The image thing took over, and it really got me into a lot of trouble with the pop star image, and I'm a guitar player, so it really is nice now to, you know, put out an album, and I know people aren't buying it for the hair, they're buying it for the playing, and also to get -- a couple years ago to get a Grammy nomination for an instrumental.

PHILLIPS: I look back and I think your dad made you talk classical guitar lessons. You probably fought that, and now you're saying thank you, dad.

FRAMPTON: Absolutely. And some of the music that he and my mother were listening to when I was listening to the Beatles was early jazz, you know, like wartime, Second World War jazz, like Django Reinhardt, Hope Club De France, and Charlie Christian and all these great, great players.

I thought it sounded like rubbish, you know, at the time, but, now, of course, Django Reinhardt's my favorite guitar player, because it just like ingrained in me, and you realize that, you know, it's one thing -- when I started playing electric, I started playing what you would call surf music, like, you know, Ventures and stuff like that, early instrumental stuff, in the early '60s before the Beatles and, of course, there is more to guitar playing than that.

PHILLIPS: Oh, absolutely.

FRAMPTON: So, it's been a journey throughout trying to listen to as many guitar players as possible and steal from the best.

PHILLIPS: Steal from the best. Listen to you.

Now, you're a songwriter also. I want to know when you're sitting down and putting your music together now, this different Peter Frampton, OK, the selfish Peter Frampton, as you say.

FRAMPTON: Which is what an artist should be. It took me a while to realize that, but you know, to be an artist you can't do what anybody hopes you would do or requests you to do. It's got to come from here.

PHILLIPS: And when you look deep down in there, is it a person, is it moment in time, is it an experience that inspires the song now?

FRAMPTON: Well, the material on the album is over a four-year period, but I get my inspiration basically from usually at home, everyone is -- the day's over. Everyone has gone to bed and I go down to my studio, and I pick up the guitar, and for an hour, hour and a half, I just sit there and I play for my own enjoyment, and that's usually when I put on a little tape recorder and just tape my silly ideas that sometimes turn into really good songs, you know, or really good instrumentals or whatever piece of music.

PHILLIPS: So you probably get asked this all the time, but who's Peter Frampton's best friend? Who's been the person's that's just rock-solid and has been there by your side when you said you were caught up in this pop culture phenomenon until now?

FRAMPTON: Well, I'd have to say my dear friend John Regan, who is our bass player, and he's been -- well, all the band have been -- I keep players as long as I can. And if it works, then why change it? And we have, well, we've actually just lost one of our band members, Bob Mayo, passed away recently.

PHILLIPS: I know how special he was too, one of your best friends.

FRAMPTON: Yes, so Bob Mayo and John have always been there with me, and John and I now sadly have to -- have lost Bob. But John is a very, very dear friend to me, and is always there. He's one of those people -- there's very few people that you can just -- you have a problem and it's something that maybe you can't talk to the family about, but it's just -- he's always there, and it's always nice to have someone like that.

PHILLIPS: Well, you know what, Peter Frampton, Bob is looking down. His spirit is inspiring you, And the new album is out. You got to get it, "Peter Frampton Now." He's here with us now, back better than ever.

Thanks so much for hanging out with us.

FRAMPTON: It's been my pleasure.

PHILLIPS: Yes, it's been great for all of us. We've watched you through the years. It's been a pleasure.

FRAMPTON: Well, thanks for having me.

PHILLIPS: It's great. And you're on tour.

FRAMPTON: We are, May 6th, Cleveland, we start. We're everywhere for two months.


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