Peter Frampton, the 72-year-old English rock musician, rented Tucker Theater and held a free concert on Sunday. The concert was filmed by British broadcasting group Sky Arts and will be aired on television at a later date.
The show was a welcome return to the concert experience before the age of smartphones. Since it was being filmed, personal photography was not allowed. Instead of looking up at Frampton through a sea of people’s phones in the air, the view was clear and everyone was living completely in the moment.
As Frampton played his hit song “Lines on My Face,” the front three lines of the audience leaped to their feet, cheering and waving, when he sang the line, “So many people, my family of friends, trying so hard to make me smile.”
Frampton waved to all the familiar faces, many of which he’s seen in his front rows countless times. Those faces belong to a group called Family of Friends, a name that pays homage to the line in Frampton’s song.
The group, about 25 strong, is a collection of fans from all around the U.S., 14 states in total.
“We’ve come together for conventions from all over the U.S. We picked one show during a tour and said, ‘That’s going to be our convention,’ so we all go, we get hotels, we see the show together, we have lunch, dinners,” said Kim Martin of North Carolina, who has been a fan since she was 13 years old and seen 76 shows. “It’s a lifelong friendship,” said Martin.
Rose Marie Hunter stopped counting the shows she attended at around 200. “I grew up with him. I just turned 24 the first time I saw him, and I’m 71 years old,” she said. “His music really pulled me through life.”
Rose Marie and Angel, another member of the group, followed Frampton’s European tour for four shows in late 2022. “London was the best. It was absolutely fantastic,” said Rose Marie with a grin.
Frampton’s all-black outfit starkly contrasted his white hair and his bright red guitar, which he only used when he wasn’t clutching his Gibson Les Paul known as “Phenix.”
“We call it the Phenix now because it rose from the ashes,” said Frampton. The guitar was a gift from an old friend. It went missing several years earlier, was miraculously recovered and returned to its renowned position as Frampton’s choice guitar.
The performance was made even more impressive given Frampton’s inclusion body myositis diagnosis. The disorder weakens muscles, but Frampton was playing his guitar as seamlessly as ever.
The disorder is what caused him to retire from touring, so the show at Tucker Theater was a very special opportunity for his fans.
“It was such a special night for all of us. A night we never thought would happen due to Peter’s diagnosis and touring being done. Lots of tears flowed tonight, but also, more memories made with our group of friends that became family due to Peter and him sharing his music,” said Martin.
Frampton concluded the concert with a touching rendition of The Beatles’ song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” “I love you and I’m gonna keep on fighting,” Frampton said as he left the stage.
The concert will air on British television later in the year.
Odie Blackmon, an associate professor in the recording industry department, connected Frampton’s team to MTSU for the free event.
Blackmon credited Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing at MTSU, and Beverly Keel, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, for making the connection a reality.
“I immediately pulled in Andrew Oppmann and Beverly Keel…” Blackmon said of the event’s creation. “I don’t put on concerts, but I do connect people… that’s what the music industry is all about.”
The connection led Frampton to Tucker Theater, which provided fans with an intimate experience to listen and connect with the singer-songwriter through his music.
The concert gave access to real-world experience for many College of Media and Entertainment students. Students shadowed the crew doing load-in for the event on Friday.
“It shines a light on our program…” Odie remarked on the importance of events like these on campus. “Somebody out there might see [promotion] for the concert and say, ‘Wow, they have a songwriting program? I didn’t know that!’”
Makayla Sulcer is a photographer and contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.
Kailee Shores is the News Editor for MTSU Sidelines.
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