Quick Stats: Peter Frampton, Grammy winning guitarist
Daily Driver: 2016 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG (Peter’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Los Angeles to Big Sur
Car he learned to drive in: 1960s Ford Popular
First car bought: 1960’s Morris Minor 1000
When the Frampton Comes Alive! phenomenon occurred in 1976, Peter Frampton became one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, but he didn’t go out and buy a car befitting that status. In fact, he stopped driving.
“When Comes Alive hit in the mid ‘70s, I really didn’t drive myself for a long time, he says. “I had my own driver, and it was limos and Town Cars at that point. I didn’t have to drive. That was what you did back then.”
Fast-forward 40 years later when he bought his new 2016 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupe. It now fits the bill as the perfect rock star car. “I cannot not drive myself now,” he says. “I love driving, especially my AMG. It’s the best car I’ve ever had, so I’d have to put it at a 10. I was looking at that car for the last few years, just watching how it was developing, and it’s my first ever AMG. It’s phenomenal. I love it.”
Frampton spoke to us from his Nashville home, where he decided to get the S63, after having a similar daily driver in Los Angeles that he liked and bought used.
“I got the non-AMG version, a second hand version of the coupe which is 2008 or 2009, and it hasn’t changed that much, the shape and everything,” Frampton says. “So I had something to drive in Los Angeles. I was looking for another car here in Nashville, but ever since I bought that one, which must’ve been a good seven or eight years ago, it’s one of those things that you look forward to. I managed to get a build time in Germany, which is kind of cool. It’s completely different being AMG. That was the thing that attracted me to this one.”
Frampton’s 2016 S63 was “spankin’ brand new,” when he bought it, adding. “I actually physically ordered it to be built,” he says. “The company I work with in Los Angeles did. They imported it, and it came through Los Angeles.” He says the car broker, LCS Automotive, then shipped the AMG to him on a truck.
He hopes to take it on his favorite road trip at some point, as well as letting it see some track time. Frampton hasn’t found anything he dislikes about the S63 yet. “I drive it every day,” he says. “I have an old Mercedes wagon E500 that I use as my van now, which I love, too. I guess I’m a Merc guy.”
2006 Mercedes-Benz E500
“I love that for what it is,” Frampton says. “It served its purpose. I love the way it drives, too. Obviously it’s completely different than the S63, but again, it’s a phenomenal drive.” He says the wagon is probably a 2006 model year.
He keeps the E500 for utilitarian purposes. “When I go to people’s houses, I bring my guitars and amps,” he says. “Nothing fits in the S63 trunk, just an overnight bag maybe. If I go to someone’s house, we’re in Nashville, everyone’s got a studio here, so when I go and visit a fellow musician, or go to a studio and do sessions, which I do here, I’ll take the wagon and load it up with my amps and guitars.”
Frampton says there’s less traffic in Nashville than Los Angeles. For now. “I would hope so, but we are getting a hundred people a day move to Nashville, so it’s getting there,” he says. “The problem here is we don’t have five or six lanes a side. That’s the problem. And there’s a lot of two-way streets.”
Mercedes Benz CL500
This coupe, which he thinks is circa 2007-2009, is Frampton’s Los Angeles car. He didn’t mind that it was a few years old when he bought it. “I had so much to spend, and they said this one was available and I said, ‘I love it, I’ll take it,’” he says. “I love it. It’s super comfortable. I had toyed with getting an Aston Martin again, and I love them, but I enjoy the comfort and the power of Mercedes.”
Frampton doesn’t mind buying secondhand cars. “I would love to buy a brand new car each time, but I spend most of my time in Nashville, so this is my main car here and out there, you know, we all have a budget,” he says.
Car he learned to drive in
Frampton grew up in South London, where he learned to drive in 1967. “It seems so long ago, right? I keep thinking things that I did like six, seven years ago, and it’s 15 years ago,” he says. “I learned to drive in my parents car, which was 1960s Ford Popular or something like that. It was a small Ford.”
At first, Frampton’s dad was his instructor. “He started to, but gave up after the first lesson and sent me to the British School of Motoring,” he says. “So I went to BSM and was taught by someone in the local town of Bromley. I only drove my parents’ car long enough to pass the test, and bingo, I was off to look for my own car.”
First car bought
Frampton bought a used, or what he refers to as “ancient” early 1960’s Morris Minor 1000 for 30 pounds. He used the car to properly practice driving after getting his license. “It’s all stick, there was no automatic or anything over there, so it was learning stick shift or manual, as we call it,” he says.
Frampton was already a professional musician, as a member of the band The Herd. “I had a 30 pound car and I was on TV with a hit record, so the milkman wanted to know why I didn’t a Rolls-Royce,” he says. “He actually asked my mother that, because obviously I was still living at home at that point.”
He dropped out of school when he was 16 to join the band. “I would go to my girlfriend’s house in that car, she lived about 15 minutes away,” he says. “That was my first dating car. 1967 was probably when I first made some money with The Herd from the hit records. When we went to gigs and everything, there was band transportation.”
Frampton laughs when he describes the Morris Minor as a “disgusting car,” which is what made him eventually get rid of it. “The next one was an Austin 1100, which was a much more modern car, probably a couple of years old at that point,” he says. “That was a car that I first had when I was in Humble Pie.”
When Humble Pie got their big record deal, Frampton got what he describes as his first decent car—a secondhand 1965 DB5 Aston Martin, which he considers his first rock star car.
“It was the James Bond model, that exact model,” he says. “I didn’t have the oil slick or the machine guns or anything out the front. If I kept that car now, it would be worth mucho dinero.”
Although it was the same model of the hero car in Goldfinger, that wasn’t solely the reason he wanted it. “Everyone in the band, we all liked Aston Martins,” he says. “Steve Marriott and I loved Aston Martins, and I’m sure that we were dragged into it from James Bond, but that really wasn’t it. It was a great car,” he says. “This is the price of cars back then—this was a 1965 Aston Martin custom car, it was four years old, and I paid less than $2,000 pounds for it. So that would have been less then $5,000 for the James Bond car.”
When Frampton moved to America, he left it with a friend in the U.K., but the car later joined him when he was living in upstate New York. But because he had other cars at that point, and he wasn’t really driving it, he ended up selling the Aston Martin around 1980. It’s become one of those early cars for Frampton that we all can relate to—the cars we wish we hadn’t sold.
“I regret selling it, I do,” he says. “I’d now had the color changed, which was a bad move and this collector wanted to put it back to exactly the same Aston Martin maroon and completely refurbish it. I’m sure it’s worth more than $500,000 probably $750,000 by now.”
Favorite road trip
Frampton’s favorite road trip is the one from Los Angeles to Big Sur, which he’s done a couple of times. “I just love that because it’s nature as well as you get some good road up there, and I’ve been up there with my son,” Frampton says. “I love going up there with my children and just going on a road trip getting away from everything.”
He enjoys taking Highway 1, and once he gets up there, Frampton often stays in Big Sur. “I love it up there. It’s beautiful,” he says. “I’ve gone up the other way when you go up the 101, when you can really put the pedal to the metal. I can choose either way.”
The last time Frampton took that road trip was a couple of years ago with his son. “I’m overdue for a road trip, that’s for sure, especially with my new car and I’m also thinking about—I’d like to be able to get taught how to drive the car, so I can be allowed on a track because the thing is so powerful that I’ve got to blow it out one day,” he says. “I would love to get an advanced driving course and to be taught by someone that knows how to drive really fast, safely.”
Some car owners are precious with their beloved new cars, especially ones on the level of an AMG built for him from Germany, but Frampton is looking forward to tracking it. “Oh, I’d love to, absolutely,” he says. “And we could stick numbers on the side too!”
Frampton’s 2017 summer tour with Steve Miller
Frampton is going on a full summer tour with Steve Miller Band, starting June 15 in New Jersey and ending in California in August. “I’ve toured with Steve since the early ‘70s,” Frampton says. “We’ve played stadiums together and clubs together, so we’ve been everywhere.”
Frampton says this is the first time since the 1970s where they’ll be on a complete tour together. “I’m talking about the whole summer—40 odd dates over a three-month period,” he says. “A couple of years ago, we did a handful of dates together, and that’s when Steve and I both realized this could be good as a package down the road, so he called me up and said, ‘You ready?’ and I said, ‘Yep, let’s do it,’ so that was great.”
For fans who might wonder if Frampton ever tires of playing his hits, the answer is no. Frampton relishes doing what he loves. But he got to play them differently on his Raw: An Acoustic Tour.
On the full tour with Miller this summer, fans will get the songs they need to hear from his iconic album. “I don’t play them quite the same every night,” he says. “They always vary a little bit, and that’s what keeps it interesting for me. In the spring and the fall, I do acoustic shows, so we go out and do a dozen dates and that’s no electrics, no band, just acoustic. That’s so much fun for me. And then I get to go out and do the numbers as people remember them from Comes Alive and all my other records with the band during the summer, so I get to do both every year.”
Frampton also just released his new song “I Saved A Bird Today,” a touching track about the time he helped a bird that crashed into his window, but that perhaps the bird was there to rescue him. He highlights his favorite lyric to sum up the song: “To care for one another is the reason we are here.” But the song also offers a metaphor for life, with its repeating lyrics,” he says. “‘Sometimes you fly on top of the world, sometimes you cry, sometimes it hurts. We all need somebody to understand, we all knew somebody—lend a hand.’”
For Frampton’s 2017 summer tour dates with Steve Miller Band, please visit http://www.frampton.com/