The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Peter Frampton. Photo by Yann Charles.

Peter Frampton and The Doobie Brothers

When: Sunday, June 29, at 7 p.m.
Where: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford
Tickets: $24-$59 at

Frampton double bills with Doobies
Old friends reunite at Meadowbrook

By Michael Witthaus

 Although the field of classic rock package tours seems crowded enough, pairing Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers makes complete sense. For one thing, there’s a friendship dating back to both performers’ early days — plus some serious artistic admiration. 

In a recent phone interview, Frampton pointed out that his 1974 song “Doobie Wah” both name-checked them and riffed from their biggest hit. 
“They are such a legendary band,” he said. “We bandy that word around, but they are. … I love the Doobie Brothers in every incarnation.”  
Early on as a solo performer, Frampton opened for the Doobies in their Bay Area stomping grounds. The exposure helped make him a headliner there. Frampton Comes Alive was recorded during his first night atop the bill at Winterland. 
“We were only doing sporadic headline tours in New York, Detroit and San Francisco” at the time, said Frampton. “We wanted to record in one of those spots where we had the whole show.”
Asked if the thought of rock history crossed his mind that night, Frampton laughed. He was more concerned about playing a longer-than-usual set, with an extended solo acoustic segment. 
“I had no idea that the truck was out there recording while we were playing,” he said. “Once we hit that stage, there was a mission. … Do great on our very first headline show in San Francisco.”
The four-piece band ended the show buzzing. 
“It was just one of those nights where you all look at each other and everyone had a great night; that doesn’t happen very often,” Frampton said. “Normally you’d say, ‘I wish we’d recor- ‘Wait, we did record that!”
Reality set in a week later in Los Angeles.
“Ray Thompson, who deserves so much credit for recording the show, took us to Wally Heider’s studio. … He said, ‘You’ve got to hear this. No mix, just let me put all the faders at zero,’ meaning the flat line. I don’t remember what songs he played [but] I do remember we just looked at each other and started to laugh. Because it sounded so good.”
A year later, he was a megastar. 
“We went straight into the stadium circuit and had the first three-tier PA system ever put together — because that was the new technology to throw the sound further,” said Frampton. “Our average gig was 55,000 people.” Frampton Comes Alive spent 10 weeks at No. 1 and stayed in the Top 20 for nearly two years. To date, it’s sold over 11 million copies. 
The album represented a commercial peak, but Frampton continued to move forward artistically. Tours with Ringo Starr, David Bowie and Bill Wyman happened in the late 1980s and ‘90s, and the instrumental album Fingerprints met with solid success in the mid-oughts. He leads the occasional Guitar Circus tour, jamming with a diverse array of players that includes B.B. King, Vince Gill and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen. 
“I want to build it into something like a traveling Crossroads. But not just blues — all styles.”
Hummingbird in a Box: Songs for a Ballet is Frampton’s latest album. Released June 24, the music comes from Frampton’s performance with the Cincinnati Ballet last April. The project began predictably. 
“Three acts, and they wanted me to do all the music but the ‘chestnuts,’ as it were.” Instead he offered to write 30 minutes of new material for one of the three acts. 
“That’s what inspired this ‘mini-album,’” Frampton said with a wry chuckle, explaining that his record label insists on the term. “They won’t let me call it an EP. They say, ‘Don’t call it that, call it this — it will make people think they’re getting more for their money.’ It’s an EP, for Christ’s sake! It’s seven tracks!” 
As seen in the June 26, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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