Don't expect to see the flowing mane of blond hair or the bared chest that adorned 1976's double album Frampton Comes Alive!, but Peter Frampton's fans can expect to hear most of the album's songs when he plays the 1,000-seat Music Box at Atlantic City's Borgata on June 24 to celebrate the record's 35th anniversary.
"In one respect, it seems like yesterday; in another, like a lifetime ago," the now gray and balding (and still quite handsome) 61-year-old musician said in a recent interview. "The Frampton mania of the '70s is gone, but the appreciation of my music, past and present, is back full-tilt, so I'm the happiest camper."
Dubbed "The Face of 1968" by a British teen magazine, Frampton became a star in his homeland - first with psychedelic pop group the Herd, then with the rock band Humble Pie, which he cofounded at age 18 with Small Faces' Steve Marriott.
Frampton's solo career, launched in 1971, got off to a steady start, but the superstardom that accompanied Frampton Comes Alive! five years later backfired on the famed guitarist. There was a near-fatal car accident in the summer of 1978, followed by a clunker of a film with the Bee Gees, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, that did little to build his credibility.
Worse, there was continual disinterest in his new music, with Frampton hitting what he calls "the bottom" just around the time childhood friend David Bowie recruited him to play guitar on his 1987 album, Never Let Me Down, and on the subsequent Glass Spider world tour.
"David actually reintroduced me to my fans," said Frampton, whose father was Bowie's high school art teacher. "He always saw beyond the image of the teeny-bopper thing to the musician. And that was the beginning of my rebuilding the career."
Frampton, who lives in Cincinnati and became a U.S. citizen after 9/11, continued to diligently tour and record, winning his first Grammy Award in 2007 for his instrumental album, Fingertips.
"Making that record certainly wasn't a career move; it was a total labor of love," he said. "And winning the Grammy was a wonderful validation for me from my peers that I've always been, first and foremost, a musician."
The last decade has been a joyful one for Frampton, who credits his peaceful state of mind to maturity, faith in himself, and hard-won sobriety.
"I started out as a musician and I'm back now as the musician," Frampton said. "It's very gratifying." He says he still "comes alive" onstage: "I love being in the moment. I'm not all that good at 'take two.' "
Frampton is one of dozens of acts making stops along the Jersey Shore as the summer concert season gets under way at Atlantic City's casinos, Boardwalk Hall, and venues in Ocean City and Wildwood.
The unofficial start of summer - Memorial Day weekend - begins May 27 with Philly natives Daryl Hall and Todd Rundgren, who appear at the Borgata for what's sure to be an inspired version of "Live from Daryl's House," followed by Paul Simon the following night. Showboat's House of Blues has a three-night holiday weekend lineup: Snoop Dogg (May 27), blue-eyed soulster Michael McDonald (May 28), and Robert Randolph & The Family Band (May 29). Also during the holiday weekend, Chicago plays Caesars on May 28 and 29.
Moving into the summer, House of Blues has a diverse lineup that includes Black Label Society (June 3), the Go-Gos (June 4), LL Cool J (June 10), and Musiq Soulchild (June 11).
The Borgata, with its two concert venues, has a full slate: Daryl Hall & John Oates (June 17), Kenny Loggins (June 17), Kid Rock (June 18), Frampton (June 24), Robert Plant (June 25), Earth Wind & Fire (July 1-2), Soundgarden (July 14), Rihanna (July 17), the Decemberists (July 29), Stone Temple Pilots (Aug. 6), and the J. Geils Band (Aug. 12).
Caesars offers a bit of everything for music lovers, from Motown great Smokey Robinson (June 11) to Deep Purple (June 17) and Matt Morrison (July 2).
Country star Leann Rimes performs at Resorts on June 24. Philly's own Boyz II Men come to the Hilton on June 25, followed by Paul Rodgers (July 2), Meat Loaf (July 16), and Whitesnake (Aug. 20). Tropicana's lineup includes 3 Doors Down (May 21), Chris Botti (June 25), and Goo Goo Dolls (July 23).
Harrah's hosts guitarist Robin Trower on June 17, and a cappella group Straight No Chaser enjoys a 10-week run at the casino, performing Wednesdays through Saturdays (June 27-Sept. 1).
Atlantic City's 13,000-seat Boardwalk Hall offers up retro-hipster Michael Buble on June 11, New Kids on the Block/The Backstreet Boys on July 29, and American Idols Live on Aug. 13 (www.boardwalkhall.com).
Ocean City's Music Pier has a concert series running on seven consecutive Mondays, July 11 to Aug. 22. Highlights include the Family Stone (July 18), the Marshall Tucker Band (Aug. 1), and Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone (Aug. 8). Visit www.ocnj.us for the full lineup/tickets.
The annual Anglesea Blues Festival comes to North Wildwood, Second and Olde New Jersey Avenues, July 8-10. The event is free; visit www.angleseablues.com for more information. The Wildwoods are also hosting more than 50 free pop, rock, R&B, and country shows - mostly featuring local and regional bands - throughout the summer at various amphitheatres. The full schedule is available at www.WildwoodsNJ.com.