Knowing he wanted to tour this summer, Peter Frampton found himself asking, perhaps not in these exact words, "Now, what do I do for an encore?"
He was coming off his epic "Frampton Comes Alive! 35th Anniversary tour" - a 2011-12 outing in which he played his landmark 1976 concert album front to back for the first time since the 1970s - plus another 80-90 minutes of music each night on a trek that numbered 116 shows.
The tour was a big success, raising Frampton's profile to its highest level in decades.
It's a tough act to follow, but Frampton looks to have come up with something special for this summer, a tour he's calling "Frampton's Guitar Circus," which comes to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort o•Saturday, Aug. 10.
"It started with the Frampton Comes Alive 35th Anniversary tour, being such a theme. Obviously it was a very powerful theme for me," Frampton explains. "Then after that, I said, 'Well what am I going to do next?' And then being that my passion is guitar, I just thought it would be great to have a tour where it's just all guitars, not all me this time.
"I had no idea who would want to come and join me, and lo and behold, the first person who said yes was B.B. King. So I'm so honored," he says. "And then Robert Cray and Sonny Landreth, (Steve) Lukather, Steve Cropper, all of these other people are going to come and sit in, Don Felder from the Eagles. It's just phenomenal. It's going to be fun for the audience and it's going to be as much fun, if not more, for us."
King is joining Frampton at the Taj Mahal, with slide guitar master Landreth also on the bill. Cray, meanwhile, was on the tour from May through June 28, with Landreth, Lukather and Kenny Wayne Shepherd opening the July and early August dates.
Frampton is hoping to play with King during the blues legend's stint on the tour.
"I have to say that to have the possibility, I say the possibility of sitting in with B.B. King during his act, is definitely, the thought of that is very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time, because he is the king of the blues, let's face it," Frampton says. "Now that's a legend. They wave the legend word around way too much, and that is a guitar legend right there."
Touring and playing with King will be a high point for Frampton, who has had some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows of any music artist.
He first gained global notice as guitarist in Humble Pie before going solo in 1971. Four early '70s solo albums built a following and set the stage for "Frampton Comes Alive!" Released in 1976, it took off behind radio favorites like "Show Me The Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do," eventually selling 18 million copies.
However, follow-up albums were unable to match that success and Frampton faded from the spotlight.
But a turnaround came when Frampton made his 2006 instrumental album, "Fingerprints." It won a 2007 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, giving Frampton's career a shot of momentum.
That album was followed by the 2010 release, "Thank You Mr. Churchill," an excellent collection of songs with vocals that solidified the fact that Frampton was once again writing and performing at a high level. Then the "Frampton Comes Alive!" 35th anniversary tour gave Frampton another significant success.
"People have said it was a brave move to do that after (playing) 'Comes Alive!,' but it was phenomenal for me because it was an education as to what I had done since 'Comes Alive,'" he says. "If I had just come out and done 'Comes Alive!,' I would have felt like we were doing an oldies tour
"I think to me, it just paid off in re-education," Frampton says. "It just reawakened myself to those people that were huge fans and were sort of at an 'I wonder what he's doing' kind of thing."
B.B. King, Sonny Landreth join Frampton in A.C.
Special guest B.B. King, below, is a blues guitar legend who truly lives up to the hype. Still going strong at 87 years old, King maintains a full touring schedule with his beloved instrument, Lucille, always with him.
Considered one of the best guitarists of all time –– he ranks sixth on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists –– King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The 15-time - and Lifetime Achievement - Grammy winner delivered a "spectacular set" at the Newport Jazz Festival ast month, according to
"The guy is pushing 90 and still tours like he was in his mid-20s, and still can strum Lucille better than anybody else," says critic Rob Duguay.
The Frampton show's other special guest, Sonny Landreth, is a relative young 'un at 62, but well known among Delta blues aficionados for his way with a slide guitar. The Louisiana resident is touring behind his 2012 all-instrumental record, "Elemental Journey," which showcases the range of his playing," according to AllMusic.com.
The album offers "a wonderfully bright, woven mesh of blues, strings, rock, zydeco, country, reggae, and jazz that shifts and turns and builds within each track, and all of it fits seamlessly together like a huge musical quilt made for guitar heaven," critic Steve Leggett writes. "This man can play guitar, and while his one-of-a-kind slide playing may always be his bread and butter, he shows clearly in these tracks that he can play the instrument in a thousand different ways."