By Mark Gauert
I’m talking up the cover story on Peter Frampton this month at a staff meeting with younger staff.
“Peter … who?” the younger staff says.
“Frampton,” I say. “Peter Frampton.”
Who doesn’t know Peter Frampton, I start. Who doesn’t know THE album, Frampton Comes Alive! Who doesn’t remember the exact time, place and, possibly, activities they were engaged in the first time they heard Baby, I Love Your Way?
Younger staff, that’s who.
People born after Frampton’s dramatic rise and fall in the 1970s and ’80s. People who remember the time, place and, possibly, activities they were engaged in the first time they heard Baby Got Back instead. People clearly not in PRIME’s 55+ readership demo.
Thinking as quickly as someone who still owns Frampton Comes Alive! on vinyl can, I send everyone a link to reggae/pop band Big Mountain’s 1994 cover of Baby, I Love Your Way. (Covers can bridge generations.)
“Oh, THAT guy,” the younger staff nods.
YES! The guy who wrote THAT song. The guy who performed it first on THE album that became the best-selling live album of the time.
“That’s him,” I say. “Peter Frampton!”
“Isn’t he the guy who wrote the jingle for the Uncle Ben’s Rice commercial, too?”
Wait. WHAT? I say. No! Not THAT guy. He can’t be.
Googling as quickly as someone who remembers when Uncle Ben’s was the best-selling rice in America can, I locate the commercial on YouTube.
“I want you,” a child sings on the animated ad, “to show me the way, every day.”
Peter Frampton sold Show Me the Way – his biggest hit from THE biggest album – to Uncle Ben? Whose wine, what wine, where the hell did I dine? (Note to younger staff: That’s a lyric from Do You Feel Like We Do.)
I think about the influence Peter Frampton had on my life when I was younger staff. I remember the exact time and place for so many activities that were accompanied by his soundtrack.
I can’t stand it no more. (Note to younger staff: That’s another Frampton lyric.)
I go back and page through our cover story on Peter Frampton. He talks about disappointments, about stalled comebacks and life’s challenges; but about optimism and rebirth, too.
Messages for all of us, I think, younger and older staff alike. Even if it means, I suppose, selling boxed rice.
“Just when you’re saying that’s it, I’ve given up, I can’t do this anymore,” Frampton says, “passion reinvents itself.
“You’ll be sitting at home and looking at that guitar and you’ll go to pick it up and I’ll play something brand new and I’ll get chill bumps. That’s why I do this, for that feeling.”
And, once again, Frampton comes alive.