David Bowie and Peter Frampton attract quite the crowd when they search for beer in Madrid, 1987
When Bowie found himself on the Spanish leg of his worldwide Glass Spider Tour, accompanied by his old Bromley schoolmate Peter Frampton, there was only one thing they had in mind; “cerveza!” Watch this deliciously retro MTV piece as the pair go in search of beer on the streets of Madrid and cause quite the stir along the way.
The pair spend much of the video larking around finding the fun in almost every innocuous situation. As they walk past a dog, Bowie sees the opportunity to interview the four-legged friend who duly spins to reveal the ‘dog’s bollocks’ as it were. Bowie walks away with a painful dad-joke, uttering: “He has a bone to pick with me”. Then when Frampton notices a paint shop, Bowie jokingly says, “This is the very shop where Picasso, Picabia, El Greco, et. al. usually buy all their paints…you thought they were dead, didn’t you?” And so it continues, like two small-town friends who have just got a video camera for the first time, they move around the city signing autographs and having a lark.
Their natural affinity for one another goes far deeper than this tour or indeed their musical kinship, the pair are in fact old school friends. Bowie found himself at the Bromley Technical High School in 1953 and under the tutorship of Art teacher Owen Frampton, Peter’s father. In an excerpt shared by Design Week from Owen Frampton’s unpublished Autobiography, Our Way: The Autobiography of a Teacher of Art & Design, offered an early viewpoint of Bowie’s growing creative character: “David was quite unpredictable. He was completely misunderstood by most of my teaching colleagues, but in those days, cults were unfashionable and David, by the age of 14, was already a cult figure.”
Young Peter, three years behind Bowie in school, was a little worried to begin school and asked his father whether anyone there liked music? “There’s this Jones chap…he’s a good artist but he seems to be very much into the music.” And so he was, in fact, when Frampton arrived at the school his first meeting with David would see him playing his saxophone with his then band The Konrads.
Frampton would go on to credit both Bowie and his then-best friend George Underwood with inspiring him to listen to American music. It would have a lasting effect and see Frampton go on to start his own band Humble Pie. Humble Pie would even go on to support Bowie in 1969 following the success of his breakout hit ‘Space Oddity’ affording him his own headlining tour.
That, however, would see the end of the decade and the end of the pair’s musical connection as they spent the seventies in very different states of flux. While Bowie would eventually go on to find the huge acclaim that Frampton’s father had seen so long ago, Peter struggled to assert himself as the musical behemoth he had hoped. Frampton would find some success in 1976, his fifth album, Frampton Comes Alive! which would be a top-selling album of the year but wouldn’t go anywhere near to eclipsing the star power of Bowie.
The eighties would follow suit for Frampton as his career began to wane and fall into a bit of a rut. A rut in which he would lull for some years until Bowie grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and asked him to play on his latest record Never Let Me Down. In a 2013 interview with M Magazine, Peter shares the moment: “The ’80s were a difficult period for me. It wasn’t until my dear friend David Bowie got me out on the road for the Glass Spider tour and on his Never Let Me Down record and reintroduced me as a guitar player around the world. I can never thank him enough for believing in me, and seeing past the image of the satin pants and big hair to the guitar player he first met when we played together in school.”
It’s clear that Frampton feels thankful for the opportunity now and it’s safe to say that he felt thankful then too. In the clip for MTV Frampton plays the kid-brother happy to tag along and be swept up in the stardom of Bowie. Nowhere is this more perfectly seen than in the video when in the middle of Bowie’s name being screamed and yelled from all angles (it was Bowie’s first ever gig in Spain), Frampton’s request for an estimate on cutting his hair at a barbers is met with a shake of the finger and a quickly closed curtain. It’s safe to say they knew who the star was at this point.
The most brilliant thing about the video though is that Bowie seems entirely oblivious to this fact. He is happy to sign autographs, to talk with whoever makes the effort for conversation, and to entertain the following cameras – he does each as naturally and as coiffed as the alien rock star from outer space he truly was. The video is a genuine moment of authentic humour, friendship and musical kinship.
Watch below as Peter Frampton and David Bowie go searching for beer in the streets of Madrid from the Glass Spider Tour in 1987.