Stan Sheldon and English rocker bring ‘Alive’ tour to the zoo
Sometimes it really, really pays to be wrong. Just ask Stan Sheldon, Peter Frampton’s bass player. Sheldon is more than glad the English rocker didn’t listen to him when Frampton started talking about recording a live album in 1975. “My advice to him was we shouldn’t do a live album,” Sheldon says. “We needed a studio hit.” Fortunately, Frampton — who had already recorded the famed live album “Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore” in 1971 with Humble Pie — didn’t take his bassist’s advice. Along with Sheldon, keyboardist-guitarist Bob Mayo and drummer John Siomos, Frampton went on to record “Frampton Comes Alive,” released in 1976. As of this year, the album has sold more than 16 million copies and its songs, including “Show Me the Way” and “Baby I Love Your Way,” are classic rock radio staples. Sheldon laughs when he talks about trying to persuade Frampton of the folly of recording live. “He didn’t fire me for that,” Sheldon adds, noting he played on “Alive” as well as on several of Frampton’s subsequent records, including the 2006 Grammy winning “Fingerprints.” “He’s a really great bandleader,” Sheldon says of Frampton, with whom he’ll play at the Oregon Zoo Amphitheater on Thursday, Aug. 11. The old bandmates are touring to mark the 35th anniversary of “Alive,” which they’ll play in its entirety. The 3 1/2-hour show also features a second half filled with newer Frampton material, and Sheldon says he’s been pleasantly surprised by how audiences have reacted. Frampton debated whether to open the show with “Alive” or wait till the second half, Sheldon says. “Peter was afraid that we’d give them the cake and then they would leave,” Sheldon says. “Happily, the audience is staying after the intermission because they’re not sure what they’re going to get.” Part of that is because Frampton is “just such a master on the guitar,” Sheldon says. “I think a lot of his fans realize he runs a lot deeper than that pop star image he has.” Fretless once again Indeed, Frampton was a rock star long before “Alive” made him a definitive icon of the 1970s. At 16, he was lead singer and guitarist for British teen band the Herd. At 18, he co-founded one of the first super groups, Humble Pie, along with Steve Marriott, formerly of the Small Faces and Greg Ridley from Spooky Tooth. In the mid-1970s, Sheldon met Frampton in Los Angeles through Kenny Passarelli, a bassist like Sheldon who favored the fretless. “When I got that audition, Peter asked ‘Do you play fretless bass?’” Sheldon says. “There weren’t a lot of us doing that then.” Fretless bass is “a very subtle thing,” he adds. “It has an almost human quality voice to it, much like a cello.” Sheldon used the fretless on “Lines On My Face,” which precedes “Do You Feel Like We Do?” on the original pressing of “Alive.” “The fretless bass sounds so beautiful on that one,” Sheldon says. What also sounds nice is the critical and audience acclaim greeting the Frampton tour, he says. “The reviews have been really excellent,” he says of the multimedia show, his enthusiasm almost bursting through the phone line. “There’s a lot of surprises that go along with it. For the fans, it’s a real treat in that respect.” He adds that he and Frampton and the rest of the group are relishing the shows. “This is probably the best band that I’ve ever been in,” he says.