Peter Frampton was in Humble Pie for only a few years. But his time with the British rock group was formative. As he tells UCR, he found his sound as a player while he was working with Humble Pie.

Even as he moved forward with his solo career, he never lost his affection for the time he'd spent with Humble Pie -- and in particular, their enigmatic vocalist, Steve Marriott. There was a nod to the band, "Shine On," from 1971's Rock On finding its way into the track listing for his blockbuster double live album Frampton Comes Alive in 1976.

Other Humble Pie favorites, like "Four Day Creep" and "I Don't Need No Doctor" have also become set list staples as the years have passed. Bringing the group's music into the present day, guitarist Joe Bonamassa recently enlisted Frampton to participate in recording a new version of "Four Day Creep," which was released as a one-off single.

The pair have enjoyed a long-running friendship and the mutual respect between the two is immediately obvious. We spoke with both of them one day before it was revealed that Frampton had been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

As the interview drew to a close, Bonamassa spoke up, to add one final bit. "I’m going to leave the conversation with this, just so Peter knows: Every time I have dinner with my friend who’s on the board at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he gets a lecture from me about Peter Frampton, Humble Pie, Free, Paul Rodgers and John Mayall," he said. "That’s all I have to say. Statues don’t cost that much. Just give one to Peter. Let’s get this done!"

However the cards might fall, the guitarists have a busy year ahead. Frampton continues to work on new music and will head out on the latest leg of his Never Say Never tour in March -- now amended to Never Ever Say Never. Bonamassa is also preparing to play dates while readying both a solo album and his next studio effort with the all-star collective Black Country Communion.

They put all of those upcoming priorities on pause to discuss the new version of "Four Day Creep."

Joe, in the years before you knew Peter, what were you curious to know about this song -- and Humble Pie -- as far as how they pulled certain things off?

Joe Bonamassa: I would listen to Humble Pie and Peter’s solo stuff -- of course, Frampton Comes Alive. I would see the record covers and I’d just start putting things together. That’s a Les Paul -- and it’s a Marshall [amp]. Especially with Frampton Comes Alive, it was the Phenix Les Paul, which [the story of that], that’s a book. [Frampton laughs] You know, as far as how that came back to you. But there were those outliers. Peter always had great use of the Leslie speaker with his sound. It was like, the Marshall and the Leslie. He would go from [a] clean [sound] to overdriven to all of these things -- it predated a lot of the technology now where you can have three separate rigs. I don’t know how you didn’t electrocute yourself back in the day -- and how you got it all talking to each other. But those were the kinds of things when I was a kid that I would try to put together and copy. It was like, “Okay, how does he get that big fat Les Paul tone? How is he going to the front pickup?” Being on a budget, I just had a chorus pedal, set to fast. There were some tricks to get around it, but you were using an actual Leslie speaker for an organ.

Frampton: Yeah, I had two Leslies. I had a 100-watt Marshall for my one cabinet -- and a 50-watt. Because in those days, monitors were not as good as they are now. So the 50-watt was for the monitor of me on the other side of the stage. Because you could barely get vocals through the monitors. You didn’t want to put guitar through there. Then, I would have two 100-watt Marshalls driving both Leslies! [Laughs] By the end, they weren’t regular Leslies anymore. But I had one Leslie on the side in my left ear, because there were no in-ear monitors, just wedges. Then I had keyboards, myself and bass behind me in another Leslie. So I had stereo mono Leslies.

Bonamassa: That’s the thing now. I always get killed on the internet for saying this, but guitar players become the pariah on stage. If you bring a 20-watt [Fender] Deluxe Reverb, they’re like, “Whoa, whoa, what are you going to do with that?” I’m like, “Play it?” In the ‘90s, I’d go into the club going, “Is one stack going to be enough?” Guitar is supposed to be loud and angry.

Frampton: Yeah, in fact, I had two 100-watts. The top two cabinets were both 100 watts, so no Leslie, just coming through there. Then underneath, I had Bob Mayo’s cabinet and a bass cabinet. So I heard everything in a wall there and then the Leslies were on top of that.

Listen to Joe Bonamassa and Peter Frampton Perform 'Four Day Creep'

Peter, "Four Day Creep" is a song that's stayed with you. You still play it live. That's probably not something you expected.
Frampton: I mean, we had no idea of the longevity of any of what we were doing. I don’t think we thought about that at the time. We were just hoping that it would be something that would increase [the number of] fans. After four studio records with Humble Pie, we realized that we're kind of like the Who. The Who make unbelievable records, but when it’s live, it’s bombastic. That was true of Humble Pie. We were pretty energetic in the studio, but nothing like we were on stage. Rock On was right before the Performance album -- and that started to give us new fans. Everyone at once sort of said, “Well, we should do a live record then and give them what they want, give them what they’re coming to see. Because we’re going down better live than we are on record sales.” So that’s why we did it.

READ MORE: Humble Pie Break Through on 'Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore'

What did you enjoy about working on this new version with Joe?
Frampton: I’m thrilled that Joe asked me to do this. It’s easy for me. [Laughs] I know it really well! Unfortunately, we were not in the studio when we recorded the track. But it seems that’s the way it is these days. “I’ll send it to you for your additions.” Both tracks I did with Dolly Parton, we weren’t in the studio together. It just seems that everything is virtual now. But the end result is phenomenal. Once I heard what Joe had put on, the vocals and guitar just take it to a whole other level. It’s wonderful.

Bonamassa: I did my bits at the Power Station in New York. It was in the room that David Bowie recorded Let’s Dance. It’s also my local -- when I’m in New York City, I walk down there. It’s great. They have a Twin Reverb. The problem is, it’s a different time now, so I go in there and turn the Twin Reverb all of the way up to 10 with a little boost pedal and get the tone that’s rocking. Next thing you know, there’s a phone call -- I was disturbing the string section that was next door. I found it very rock and roll. We would do this thing where I had to wait. I sang the bits first. Then, we had to wait for them to finish or take a break and I would put some guitar on. Again, loud guitar.

Frampton: Yeah, well, with a Twin Reverb, you’ve kind of got to turn that puppy up quite a ways, because it’s Mr. Clean there.

Bonamassa: Yeah, I’d turn it all of the way up to 10, dial it back one number and put a boost on it until it sounds alright.

Were there challenges?
Bonamassa: Oh, the biggest challenge was that I think I had to run up to the mic to get the range to sing.

[Frampton laughs]

Bonamassa: And I still didn’t get the high note!

Frampton: Well, the original is in E and we did it in E flat because I can’t make the B. I have to do the B flat. [Laughs]

Bonamassa: Yeah, it’s the B.

Steve Marriott is a hard guy to match.
Frampton: That five-foot-five ball of energy, Steve Marriott, he’d go up to the E. I’ve heard him sing an F too.

Bonamassa: Wow.

Frampton: He was just a….he wasn’t real. [Laughs]

Bonamassa: No, and when you listen to Rockin’ the Fillmore, he was the only singer that would sing the rap, in between songs. He wasn’t like, “Hey, how are you feeling?” No, he would sing it. Incredible. He had no peers in 1973. Nobody could get those notes.

Frampton: No, no. He was a freak of nature when it came to singing. To me, he was like Mavis Staples. In fact, there is a version of “Oh La De Da” by the Staple Singers and by Humble Pie -- after I left. But if you compare the two, it’s hard to tell which one is Mavis and which one is Steve. He had the Staples, gospel, blues and country on a loop at his house. He would sing Staples [stuff] and one of his all-time favorites was Mavis. He just couldn’t get enough of her.

Peter, how did you land on your guitar tone and overall sound?
Frampton:
I discovered my sound with Humble Pie towards the end. We were doing the Rock On record at Olympic Studios with Glyn Johns engineering and producing. So whatever you give him, he’s going to make it sound good. But I had an Echo Twin Ampeg. It was probably 1959-ish. Two speaker stereo amp, throw the switch and the signal comes out of one side, reverb comes out of the other -- or you can put it to mono and just signal comes out of both. I had that and I didn’t have a decent distortion pedal. There wasn’t one at that point. I didn’t like the fuzz pedals. So if I whack this thing up around six or seven, it had the beautiful breakup that’s featured on a lot of my early stuff. I had my Marshall at one end -- Glyn would set us up like we were on stage. So the drums were in the middle, Steve’s here, bass is here and I’m here.

Glyn had me put my Marshall cabinet all of the way to the left and then my Ampeg amp all of the way to the right. Then he recorded me in stereo for “Stone Cold Fever” on the Rock On album. The sound was pretty damn good. I’d never experienced it quite like that before. With the breakup, the Marshall was a little cleaner, but the Ampeg was fully blown. The combination in stereo, was amazing. But at the end of “Stone Cold Fever,” there’s an almost-jazzy out solo. Well, I guess I made it jazzy. [Laughs] I came into the control room and didn’t say anything once we’d cut the track and got the solo. When I heard my sound and then the solo, that’s when I said to myself, “I think I’m playing Peter Frampton for the first time.” Not the sound necessarily, but that definitely helped. I think I had finally put together what I was as a guitar player. I wasn’t copying anybody at that particular moment or listening to anybody in my head. I was just of the moment, playing, and that’s what came out. I’m very proud of that solo because it was the beginning of my style and sound.

Listen to Humble Pie Perform 'Stone Cold Fever'

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