Peter Frampton was taking a bathroom break during a recording session at home in Nashville when his managers called to tell him he was included on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot — for the first time ever.
“I screamed — not like a girl, but I did scream. I said, ‘You’re kidding me!’” Frampton tells Billboard via Zoom, with a laugh. “My band leader Rob [Arthur] was in my music room at the time, ’cause we were doing a video… He came running, ‘What the hell’s going on!’ He thought something was wrong. “So, anyway, it was a very good day.”
Frampton’s long-awaited appearance on the ballot — he’s been eligible since the early ’90s based on his first recordings — is good news for a legion of fans that have long been lobbying for him and protesting his exclusion from even the Rock Hall ballot. In fact, Frampton notes, “A lot of those fans feel more outraged about it taking so long for me than I am. So they can all rest easy now; at least my name’s in the hat.”
“I never expect anything,” adds Frampton, who for several years has been battling degenerative Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM). “I’m a realist. I understand there have been criticisms of the past Rock Hall administration for bizarre choices, which I agree there were. And, yes, my career is what it is, and whatever anybody thinks about it I do feel I deserve [to be inducted].” However, he cautions, “This isn’t it, you know? I’ve still got to get the votes.”
Frampton credits his nomination in part to 2023 Rock Hall inductee Sheryl Crow. She included him in last year’s ceremony in her performance with Stevie Nicks, which Frampton says “stirred the pot big-time and made people aware — including some of the board members, I think. They thought I was already in.”
Frampton’s Rock Hall credentials are unquestioned, certainly. A younger classmate of David Bowie‘s at Bromley Technical School in England, where Frampton’s father was a teacher, he began playing from the time he was an adolescent and began touring in 1964 with his band The Preachers, whose recordings were produced by the Rolling Stones‘ Bill Wyman. As a member of The Herd, Frampton was named “The Face of 1968” by the British teen magazine Rave, and a year later he was part of the original Humble Pie, in which he spent three years before going solo.
Along the way Frampton also played on George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass, and he did sessions for The Who‘s John Entwistle, Harry Nilsson and Jerry Lee Lewis. Frampton’s first solo album, Winds of
Change, came out in 1972, and it was of course the iconic Frampton Comes Alive! album in 1976 that made him a global star, with estimated sales of more than 20 million copies worldwide and an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Frampton lost his rock credibility after that, however, with his I’m in You album and an ill-advised starring role in the 1978 film adaptation of The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“I was trounced on, rightly so, for being the pop star. I became this teenybopper thing,” Frampton acknowledges. But Frampton continued to record and got a boost from Bowie, who featured Frampton on his 1987 album Never Let Me Down and in the band for the subsequent Glass Spider Tour, which reminded the world he was first and foremost a guitar player. Back in rock ‘n’ roll favor, he also won his first Grammy Award in 2007 for the previous year’s instrumental album, Fingertips.
“I have had so many wonderful helping hands along the way,” Frampton says. “Yes, my career has been my own, but I really have had some helping hands, wonderful helping hands, along the way that went to bat for me.”
Frampton adds that the Rock Hall nomination is so fresh that “I haven’t quite realized what I feel it means yet. I’m still in the troughs of ‘Really?!’” But as “a super, super fan of other great talent,” he says the nomination, and the potential of an induction, mean a great deal to him.
“It’s a heady kind of thought, really,” Frampton explains. “If I do make it, to be on the same level these artists that are the be-all and end-all, as far as I’m concerned, is pretty incredible.” Among those as well is fellow first-time nominee Foreigner, whose founder Mick Jones played on “All I Wanna Be (Is By Your Side)” on Wind of Change. “I’m so thrilled to hear that Foreigner got on [the ballot] ’cause Mick and I have been friends for a lifetime.”
Frampton says he’ll do some modest campaigning — mostly reminding fans to participate in the Rock Hall’s public vote — when he sets out on his Never EVER Say Never Tour on March 3 in Greensboro, N.C. He’s been busy of late as well: he and his son Julian, who’s also a musician, recently appeared on the Fox TV reality show We Are Family , and Frampton is among the 60 musicians playing on Mark Knopfler‘s new version of his 1983 instrumental “Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero,” a fundraiser for the U.K.’s Teenage Cancer Trust that comes out Feb. 19.
During the summer, meanwhile, Frampton says he’ll continue work on both a new album of original songs — his first since Hummingbird in a Box in 2014 — and a documentary that’s been in process for several years.
Rock Hall inductees are expected to be announced during early May, with the ceremony taking place this fall in Cleveland, on a date to be determined. Disney+ will again telecast the event.