Despite a crushing diagnosis of inclusion body myositis and a looming farewell tour, the thrill is definitely not gone for Peter Frampton. For proof of that listen to his take on B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone," with fellow guitarist Sonny Landreth guesting, premiering exclusively below from Frampton's upcoming All Blues covers album.
Frampton acknowledges to Billboard that the classic "is not a song I would ever have done" before meeting King when the late blues legend was part of his 2013 Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus tour. "I went to his bus to meet the King, and I'm very nervous and sort of stuttering and stuff in front of him," Frampton recalls with a laugh. "He could see I was having a little trouble, and he said, 'Peter, sit down, boy. Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it for you.' I couldn't believe it. He just put me at ease -- such a modest man and the nicest, easiest to get along with person you could ever dream of."
Frampton wound up playing "The Thrill is Gone" with King during the shows they did together, noting that, "I can't really think of the words that describe that feeling, but it was pretty stupendous." So when he decided to make the All Blues album -- inspired, Frampton says, by jamming with Steve Miller while touring together during the past two summers -- he was open to recording his own version for posterity.
"It's a tribute," Frampton notes. "We were lucky enough, privileged enough to have B.B King open for us on his penultimate tour and I played the number with him every night. I don't think people are gonna be too upset that we do a version of this."
"The Thrill is Gone" is one of 10 blues covers on All Blues, which comes out June 7 -- and will be the first in a series of albums Frampton and his band have been making since October. "We must have done nearly 40, 45 tracks, and we're still going," reports Frampton, who was diagnosed with IBM some years ago but only made it public this year. He reckons he has three albums done already "and we're working on a fourth right now, and after that I think it's time for a Christmas album!" There will be a set of original songs as well as an instrumental covers collection and another blues album since the All Blues sessions yielded 23 tracks over a 10-day period. Frampton predicts more original material will come, too, as his recently started work on a memoir "is actually doing wonders for lyrics as well. I've really been heavily getting into some lyrical content recently, which is good for me."
"I want to go out playing really well," explains Frampton, who had to pull the plug on a planned co-headlining trek with Alice Cooper this summer because he felt it was the right time for his farewell tour. "I've never recorded this much in my life, but I'm at the top of my game still and enjoying the playing immensely. I want to get as much recorded and play as much as I can until I can't. I'm not going to stop playing until I absolutely have to, and I've got so many ideas."
Frampton also has plenty of plans for the farewell tour, which kicks off June 18 in Oklahoma. He's been soliciting requests from fans -- at least one of whom has called for the title track from Humble Pie's first album, As Safe As Yesterday Is, which is only adding to the roster of potential material for the shows. "It won't be a static playlist," Frampton promises. "It'll change every night. People have mentioned they're coming to multiple shows on this tour, so hopefully they'll see at least a couple of different numbers. (The suggestions) are digging really deep, so who knows what we'll end up playing."
While the music plans and book project (as well as his new The Peter Frampton Show on SiriusXM) are ongoing, Frampton is also being treated for his IBM at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and he plans to take part in a drug test study after the farewell tour wraps during mid-October. Meanwhile, he's been "blown away" by the outpouring since he announced his condition. "In this world right now, when you're a little despondent about the situation and the way we treat each other, this kind of brings everything into perspective for me about how caring people are," Frampton says. "I've always been a caring person for others and done my bit where I can to help, but this is something very special, and it's what's keeping me going. I can't thank everybody enough."