January 1976: "Frampton Comes Alive!" Released in America

Framptom Comes Alive Cover Art
Photo Credit
(A&M Records)

America was still recovering from the 1975 holiday season when Peter Frampton slipped Frampton Comes Alive! onto record store shelves on January 6, 1976. The aspiring British rocker had left the band Humble Pie in 1971, and released four solo albums. At that point, none of them had exactly burned up the charts. His most recent release, Frampton, had peaked at #32 on the charts.

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“I didn’t have huge expectations for Frampton Comes Alive!" the guitarist remembered later. "My previous album, Frampton, had sold about 300,000 copies – a decent amount but not mind-blowing. There was talk at the label that maybe the live record could go gold. I was hoping we could do it, but I wasn't sure."

That all changed with Frampton Comes Alive! The palpable electric energy of the live recordings were an immediate hit with FM radio stations across the country. Debuting on the album charts at #191, it would rocket up the charts and crash the #1 spot on April 10, 1976, toppling Eagles' Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975. The album would linger in the top 10 for months, returning to #1 again for various weeks in July, August, September and even October of 1976. Helping the album's rocket ride on the charts: a list price of $7.98 for the double-album, just one dollar more than a single album at the time.

On pop radio, a single release of "Show Me the Way" would be a smash, peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 on May 7, 1976. Frampton's label, A&M, would follow it up with a single version of "Baby, I Love Your Way," which would climb to #12 in August.

While the pop side of Frampton's fan base had been covered with the album's first two singles, his rock and rollers were well represented on the third: "Do You Feel Like We Do." The track closes the album at more than 14 minutes, perfect for radio DJs to put on when they needed a break. For the single, an edited version of the song still ran almost seven and a half minutes long. Still, it became a hit, going on to be one of the longest songs to ever hit the top ten when it peaked at #10 on November 12, 1976--11 months after the release of the album.

In concert, "Do You Feel Like We Do" would often go on for nearly a half-hour, much to the delight of his fans. The song was highlighted by Frampton's work with a guitar "talk box," allowing him to blend his voice with the sounds of his guitar. The move would prove to be Frampton's sonic signature.

Frampton's popularity was so enormous that the rocker was invited to hang out at the White House with president Gerald Ford. Ford's son, Steve, was a big fan.

Frampton White House

Frampton Comes Alive! is the album I’ll always be remembered for," the artist said in 2011. "I’m very proud of the music that’s on it. Why it exploded the way it did and continues to live on are things that can’t fully be explained. But I’m extremely grateful to have touched so many people’s lives with it – then and now. I’ve got kids coming to shows with their parents and grandparents, and everybody knows the record by heart. We have a fantastic time, too! You can’t complain about that.”

In 2019, Frampton embarked on a farewell tour, revealing his diagnosis with the degenerative disease, Inclusion-Body Myositis. The tour wrapped up in California in October of 2019.

“We decided to do a farewell tour now since I don’t want to go out and not be able to play well. If I’m going to do a farewell tour, I want to play good. I want to rock it," he told Rolling Stone when the run was announced.

“I know that this tour, I will be able to do everything I did last year and the year before. That’s the most important thing to me. I want to go out screaming as opposed to, ‘He can’t play any more.’ I’m not going to do that. I’m a perfectionist and I can’t do that.”

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