Classic Rock

Peter Frampton explains how David Bowie gave him his “credibility” back

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Peter Frampton recently finished up the 2022 dates of his farewell tour, after announcing a few years ago that he’ll be retiring from the road due to a degenerative muscle condition.  He sat with Guitar World for a wide-ranging interview about his career, in which he discusses his struggles with his ’70s-era fame, and how David Bowie saved his career.

After 1976’s Frampton Comes Alive made him one of the world’s biggest stars, Frampton says that after the follow-up, 1977’s I’m In You, “I could feel it slipping away…I started to lose a lot of audience…I felt like I was in a sinking ship.” As the ’80s arrived, Frampton admits he wasn’t making his best work, and he wasn’t having much commercial success, either. But in 1986, things turned around for him — and he gives the credit to Bowie, his old schoolmate.

“I did a record for Atlantic called Premonition,” he tells Guitar World. “It still wasn’t a great record…but that’s the album David Bowie listened to…he said, ‘Can you come and play some guitar for me?’”

Frampton ended up playing on Bowie’s 1987 album Never Let Me Down, and then joined him on his Glass Spider tour. 

“He could have chosen anybody…but he chose me. I can never thank him enough for that,” admits Frampton. Rather than missing the spotlight, he says being a sideman is his “comfy chair,” explaining, “I’ve always been more comfortable playing guitar, not singing.”

He notes, “David inviting me to do the album and tour changed my credibility; I got my credibility back that I felt I’d lost when I’m In You came out. I’m a musician first and foremost. David gave me back that credibility to continue and bring people back to me.”

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