Peter Frampton was among the most surprised winners at this year's Grammy Awards in February.
In fact, he almost didn't notice that they'd called his name.
"There were just too many heavyweight people in that category -- Larry Carlton, Spyro Gyra," recalls Frampton, 57, who received his first Grammy, Best Instrumental Pop Album trophy for his 2006 release "Fingerprints." He was also nominated for Best Instrumental Pop Performance for his version of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun."
Frampton's award was given during the pre-broadcast ceremony and, he notes, "was award number 97 or something, so it was a little tedious to say the least. They announced the nominees for that category, and then they mentioned my name.
"At that particular moment, I didn't think it was me. I sort of went, 'Ah, OK, it's Larry Carlton...' Then my wife let out this blood-curdling shriek and I realized that, no, it's [i]me[/i].' "
Frampton has been nominated for Grammy Awards before, but winning for "Fingerprints" and being honored for his playing, he says, was particularly special.
"It's a very different Peter Frampton record and something that was truly a desire of mine for many, many years," he explains. "To actually win it for, in effect, my guitar playing and my musicianship and not, shall we say, the Frampton image, was truly spectacular for me.
"And it has nothing to do with 'Frampton Comes Alive,' which is wonderful to say. Everything else in my career seems to always get back to that, whereas this was something totally different."
"Frampton Comes Alive," of course, is both the zenith of the British-born rocker's career and an albatross he's carried since it was released in 1976 and became a multi-million selling, starmaking vehicle. The success was welcome, of course, but it also turned him into a pop phenomenon and eclipsed his previous work, which included a tenure in the hard rocking band Humble Pie and sessions for George Harrison, Harry Nilsson, the Who's John Entwistle, Donovan and others.
He never repeated "Frampton Comes Alive's" success and took a critical beating for the subsequent "I'm in You" and for his participation in the misbegotten 1978 film adaptation of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band." Frampton has spent the subsequent decades quietly re-establishing his reputation as a player and also delving into the musical instrument world, with a signature Gibson Les Paul guitar, amplifiers and a custom Talk Box, the device he made famous on hits such as "Show Me the Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do."
And with "Fingerprints," Frampton notes, "if I was trying to reinvent myself, I guess I got my message across."
There are tracks left over from the "Fingerprints" sessions, but Frampton -- who's now a U.S. citizen and resides in Cincinnati -- is cool to the idea of a sequel, despite its success.
"I'm weird like that; I tend to move on," he explains. "I don't think there'll be a 'Fingerprints 2.' " But, he adds, "I will say this; I think, after this, there will always be instrumentals on my future CDs."
Nothing specific is set for the future, however. "I just don't want to plan at this point," says Frampton, who has five children from his three marriages. "I've got an immense amount of material already started, but I don't know what it's gonna turn into yet until I start sitting down and finishing all these ideas I've got.
"I would say I'll start writing by the time we get off the road in November, and we'll see where it goes. After ('Fingerprints'), I feel like I have a license to try almost anything, you know?"
Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (June 14th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $15 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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