Childhood memories inspire new songs for Frampton

Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:20pm EDT
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By Jason Lipshutz

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Since he started his career in the '60s, Peter Frampton has maintained his reputation as an electrifying guitarist and solo artist, most famously on 1976's multiplatinum live set "Frampton Comes Alive!" Five days after his 60th birthday, the British legend will release one of the most personal albums of his career, "Thank You Mr. Churchill."

Due April 27 from A&M/New Door/UMe, the set features songs that reflect on early memories as well as troubling world issues.

Frampton spoke with Billboard about his childhood, upcoming touring plans and his first two Grammy Awards, received in 2007 for the instrumental album "Fingerprints."

Billboard: How is the album autobiographical?

Peter Frampton: There are two songs that make it autobiographical. "Thank You Mr. Churchill" uses (Winston) Churchill as the man signifying the winning of the Second World War and bringing my father home. I just thought, "What if he hadn't been there? Would I be here today?" That led me to "Vaudeville Nanna and the Banjolele." I had this memory as a child of my grandmother leaving a banjolele (a cross between a banjo and a ukulele) in our attic and saying to my father, "Leave this up there, and maybe Peter will get curious and you can show it to him one day." So it is the story of how I started playing, and the track is very important to me.

Billboard: Why was it a good time to release an album with such topical lyrics?

Frampton: I don't think it was necessarily the right time, it was just when it happened. In the past you wouldn't hear me voicing my opinion on the greedy pigs on Wall Street, but I felt that I wanted to say something about it, because we're all thinking it, and people are still dealing with it. Becoming more open to what's going on around me gave me so much more to write about. Yes, there are love songs and rock 'n' rollers on the album, but there are some things that have special meaning for me too.

Billboard: There are many straightforward rock songs on "Churchill." What made you veer away from more technologically advanced music?   Continued...

<p>English singer and composer Peter Frampton performs at the 49th International Song Festival in Vina Del Mar city, about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Santiago in this February 22, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez</p>