Ask Peter Frampton why he decided to put a band together and hit the road, and his answer is surprisingly simple. He isn't heading out because he has a new album to support (he doesn't) or because he's hoping to stoke the flames of nostalgia (he isn').
No, Frampton, who will be at Hammerjacks tonight, is heading out because "it's been too long."
"I'm the guy who did that big live record, and I haven't been on the road," he says over the phone from New York. "Getting back on the road again makes this all worthwhile, I think."
Hearing him talk about it, a Frampton tour at this juncture in his career seems obvious enough. But the truth is, it probably wouldn't have even occurred to him had he not been invited to sit in with Lynyrd Skynyrd last fall in Los Angeles.
"We have a history, Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, because we did so many outdoor shows in the late '70s," he says, chuckling. "You used to be able to get the two longest rock and roll numbers on the radio onstage in the same show: 'Do You Feel' and 'Freebird.'
"Anyway, that was the end of October. They asked me to come up and play, so I did, and when I came out, the audience let me know -- loudly -- that it was good to see me again. The following day I got offers from the local promotion company, Avalon, to do a show at the Ventura Theater. I said, 'I can't put the band together for one show. It's time to go on the road.' And that was it."
Actually, there was a little more to it than that. Earlier in the year, Frampton had been working with singer Steve Marriott, his old bandmate from Humble Pie. It was the first time the two had worked together in nearly two decades, yet the combination was magical.
"We still didn't agree on most things, but we wrote beautiful songs together," says Frampton. "It was a great relief for me to be back with him, and to see how he thought, and how much easier he made it look. We had a record deal. We had a band. We were just about to get down to finalizing a name, and we had half the album written. I was building a studio that we were going to use for most of the work, and that happened."
"That" was a fire in Marriott's home in England, which claimed the singer's life.
"It was devastating," he says. "There I was, left with a three-piece. Terrific three-piece. Everyone's saying, 'Get somebody else.' " He laughs bitterly. "It's not that easy. When something falls together like that, it's supposed to happen. To try and then fill that position in the band . . ."
Marriott died in April of last year, and Frampton says that it wasn't until he went out onstage with Lynyrd Skynyrd that he felt he was done mourning. "That was it," he says. "I realized that I had to go out and do something, just to have fun. That's really why I'm doing the tour."
Peter Frampton R When: Tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 10 p.m.
Where: Hammerjacks, 1102 S. Howard St.
Call: (410) 659-7625.