Retiring from the road. Time decides when it is over. This week, Peter Frampton announced he is retiring from the road after this year’s summer tour ends.
Some musicians work right up to the end. Leon Russell, Johnny Winter, Glen Campbell and others played until they couldn’t. Others like Eric Clapton start to wind it down, tired of the travel and battling his own health challenges. Elton John is on his final tour although it will take him several years to complete. Paul Simon, Black Sabbath, Tina Turner and Neil Diamond all retired from the road. Fleetwood Mac, Joan Baez, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger are on their final tours. Some performers completed their farewell tours only come back again for more tours. Giving up the road is hard, and the money that comes with it.
Groups we thought would retire after core members died recruited replacements and continued. The Eagles and Yes come to mind. The Rolling Stones and The Who keep going, with the remnants of their original crews, and still, we go to see them.
Peter Frampton has never come off the road, especially when his career was not doing well. Frampton Comes Alive! carried him for years but the market required new product and when the new albums didn’t sell, he needed the road. In the 1980’s, his friend David Bowie recruited him to play on one of his albums and the resulting tour. Frampton said it was a needed shot in the arm, as his career has more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.
As album sales have tanked, especially from other artists who don’t have chart hits, touring paid the bills. Frampton, unlike many other artists of his era, keeps recording new music. Touring also keeps newer music in front of fans. According to Frampton, he has several new music projects lined up.
Now the bad news.
Inclusion-Body Myositis (IBM), a disease that weakens the muscles, is something Frampton was diagnosed with more than three years ago. There is no cure and he has kept it a secret. The disease affects his legs and hands, and he fears it will stop him from playing the guitar. He wonders about next year, hence the focus on getting his new music completed.
The silencing of an artist, whether it is a painter, writer, singer or musician is a tragedy. The end of the line is not pretty. I saw Leon Russell on one of his last trips through my area. He used a motorized cart to get to the stage, though his playing and singing was good. Johnny Winter sat hunched over in a chair to play his guitar as his concert career was near an end. He was helped on an off the stage. Glen Campbell, physically, sang and played guitar as well as ever, but his memory and concentration were failing him. As fans, we look past all of that, we come for the music and to add to our memories.
This summer, I’ll be there to for one last Frampton concert. Time will stand still, even drift back to Frampton’s glory days of the 1970’s. Peter Frampton, I love your way.
I’ve written about Peter Frampton in other blogs.