It seemed like everyone had this new album or 8-track tape.
Jocks. Heads. Cheerleaders. Straights. Geeks.
Everyone was listening to Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive.”
We had no choice.
Never miss a local story.
It was on every FM rock station.
“The stars are out and shining
But all I really want to know
I want you, show me the way, everyday.
I want you, show me the way…”
“Frampton Comes Alive!” turned 40 this month. It was released in January 1976. I saw a news article about the old album’s popularity and anniversary. It was one of those moments when you feel both young and old simultaneously.
The album came from nowhere. Frampton? KSHE-95 Real Rock Radio was playing songs from “Frampton Comes Alive” continuously.
“Frampton Comes Alive” wasn’t one of my favorite albums. The most recognizable songs were “Show Me the Way”, “Baby, I Love Your Way”, and “Do You Feel Like We Do,” all of which were released as singles.
To this day, I get them confused with one another.
They sound alike.
What makes me feel good when hearing “Frampton Comes Alive” is remembering when it became a big deal in the music world, and our little world here in Belleville.
I remember 1976 most because the country was preparing for its Bicentennial celebration that summer, and our world was turning tacky red, white and blue.
I was a junior at Althoff Catholic High School. Big hair. Small world.
Gerald Ford was U.S. President, soon to be challenged by the Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter.
“Laverne & Shirley” was a hot, new TV show.
The baseball Cardinals were bad, and the football Cardinals were just good enough to break my heart, and I was still trying to figure out if I liked hockey or not.
There were concerts at the Checkerdome and Keil Opera House, and on Friday nights, we’d sneak in the back door of Ricco’s in Belleville to see live music like Arrow Memphis.
Teens spent weekend nights on school parking lots or in our parents’ basements. Listening to music. Trying to be cool. Cruising McDonald’s. Ever see the movie, “Dazed and Confused?” There’s a lot of non-fiction in that fiction.
There was so much good music to listen to in the 1970s, from Aerosmith to Springsteen to Heartsfield to Marshall Tucker Band to Dylan to Gypsy to Buffalo Springfield to Blue Oyster Cult to the Eagles to Harry Chapin.
And on the radio, we listened to Frampton a lot.
We had to.
He was everywhere, like it or not.
“Oh baby I love your way, everyday
Wanna tell you I love your way, everyday
Wanna be with you night and day…”
That is Frampton, not Dylan, Springsteen, Costello, McCartney, Bowie, Frey or Clapton. What I always remember about Frampton’s live album is not the lyrics or weird guitar, but how it managed to become so popular, so fast.
It was the best-selling album of 1976 and one of the best-selling “live albums” ever.
Frampton’s songs continue to receive much airplay today on classic rock radio stations.
Whenever I hear Frampton songs today on the radio, I always feel good. They still make me feel both young and old. For the memories they bring. And I try, but I still can’t tell one song from the other.