From ballet to the circus to dishing up some Humble Pie, Peter Frampton has plenty on his plate these days.
Perhaps the most exciting news is the impending release of some choice material from his old band's vault. Frampton and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley are working with Omnivore Recordings on a box set culled from the group's four May 1971 shows at New York's Fillmore East which were sourced for the legendary "Performance Rockin' the Fillmore" album.
"We just mixed all four nights," Frampton tells Billboard. "they are the same, basically, apart from maybe one different title. The performances are all radically different 'cause they're all ad-libbed, and Humble Pie is that way. And it's so great to be able to take yesterday's 24-track (tape) and use today's technology to bring out what's really there. And it's phenomenal. Just to hear Steve (Marriott) talk, and we haven't edited anything out. It's just form the moment we walk on stage to the moment we walk off. Nothing is edited at all."
Shirley, who published his memoir "Best Seat in the House: Drumming in the '70s With Marriott, Frampton, and Humble Pie" in 2011, is writing liner notes for the set, whose release date has not been set. Frampton says a career-spanning Humble Pie box set will likely come out in 2014, while there's a possibility he and Shirley may put together some sort of live representation of Humble Pie's music to coincide with these releases.
"I can't tell you what it is, but something special will happen," Frampton says. "It's who it will be with that will be very exciting -- if it comes off. If I say too much, then it'll fall through and I'll look like an idiot!. But Jerry and I are very pleased that people are willing to go to lengths to do these things now for Humble Pie, because I think it's a very underrated band and it needs this, if only just for the memories of Steve and Greg (Ridley)."
Frampton, meanwhile, is getting ready for the May 26 kickoff of his summer Guitar Circus tour, which will feature special guests such as B.B. King, Robert Cray and Sonny Landreth -- with other surprises likely to surface during the course of the tour. "I've got a whole bunch of people that want to sit in during my segment of the show, too," Frampton says. "Who's gonna sit in with who I don't know 'til we actually get out there. And if there's local people that just want to turn out and play, I'm sure that could be part of this, too. It's a circus -- anything can happen. And that's what I want."
Frampton, who will also be touring Germany in October and November, will keep the Circus on the road through the end of August. And if all goes well he hopes to put his ringmaster's hat on again in the future. "If it's successful and promoters want to do it again, it would be a dream to be a biannual thing or every three years or something," Frampton notes. "If it's something that might have legs for the future, nothing would please me more."
Frampton is working on some new music as well, but he's particularly keen to see the release of the seven new songs he created for a collaboration with the Cincinnati Ballet last month, including "The Promenade Retreat," "Norman Wisdom" and "Friendly Fire."
"The music will come out, but we don't know how yet," says Frampton, who's still overwhelmed by the success of the project. "I didn't think I would feel this great or fulfilled with doing this. It was a challenge to put a ballet and me together, especially with new material, but it was a welcome surprise. Everyone was on, like, 100 percent and rose to the occasion and wanted it to so badly work well, and boy, did it. It was one of the most amazing things I've done in my career."
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