do not have a clue as to why Frampton Comes Alive was so big, but it was, and at the beginning of all the success we went to a party for Electric Light Orchestra in New York. A table had been roped off for our band. There were, like, thousands of photographers there, and we walked in and sat down and just began giggling. The band was saying to me, "Do you realize that everybody is staring at you?
I said, "Yeah, it's a funny sensation. What is it? Is my jacket dirty, or what?"
I didn't quite realize what was happening to me. I'd become the flavor of the month. People thought of me differently, not as a human being, which can be very disconcerting to deal with, especially when it happens so quickly and so big.
Somewhere along the way, my credibility as a musician got lost. I was overmarketed. The live album didn't need hyping, and yet it got hyped with me on the cover of Rolling Stone with my shirt off, which instantly turned off a lot of my musical fans.
I didn't realize what a split-second photo like that could do. It was only one shot by Scavullo. I let him take just one of me with my shirt off. The rest of the session was normal, you know, with a jacket on and everything. But the one with the shirt off was the one they used. It's the one of me everyone likes to use.
So it just got to the point where the image had totally overridden everything else. Suddenly, I was appealing just to teenage girls. Everyone forgot that I could play the guitar.
Later on, I remember turning up at a gig, and the girls were outside afterwards saying, "Oh, I didn't know you played the guitar," which was, like, alarm bells going off inside of me. But it was too late at that point. The damage had been done.
And then came the Sgt. Pepper movie. The last thing you want to do is copy the Beatles. I mean, that's an unwritten law. But at the time it looked good on paper -- Beatles music, a Robert Stigwood production, George Martin doing the music, the Bee Gees, and the carrot: Paul McCartney playing the part that Billy Preston eventually played at the end of the film.
McCartney's name gave it all the credibility I needed to hear.I said, "Yes, I'll do it."
Of course, I arrive on the set the first day, and they go, "Paul who?"
There were maybe a half-dozen people involved that had made a movie before. I think we all should have gone to school. The director would say, "OK, you come around the corner in the car, you look at the balloon, and I want you to look amazed, surprised."
So you think about looking amazed and you go "Ah," which on screen looks as if your mouth is four feet open. So ridiculous. All one needs to do to look amazed is raise your eyebrow just slightly. We didn't know any of this. I remember seeing myself in that scene and laughing. It was so ridiculous it was funny.
The next big thing in my illustrious career was a car wreck in the Bahamas. When I woke up, I was so glad to be alive that I started wondering, "What the hell is going on?"
It was not a nice time at all. My personal life had completely fallen apart. A lot of people were making a lot of money off me, but they weren't necessarily thinking about my career in the long run. They used what I had and sort of ran it dry.
My last album for A&M, Breaking All the Rules, was a valiant attempt to sort of get it back, but it wasn't in my heart. I'd lost the drive, the energy, and the excitement. I suppose I was bitter. By 1982, I was no longer with A&M. My management had gone two years before that, and I just pulled back from everything.
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