Peter Frampton was there on the frontline when The Beatles left their permanent marker on music throughout their eight years of supremacy. ‘The Fab Four’ continuously pushed the boundaries of pop music, and for the former Humble Pie man, one album stands out as a personal favourite.
Although Frampton was considerably younger than most people involved in the London scene of the swinging sixties, somehow, he still became involved despite being a teenager. When he was 14, Frampton began playing with The Preachers, who became Moon’s Train and were later managed and produced by Bill Wyman from The Rolling Stones. However, Frampton would soon move on to bigger things.
Aged just 16 in 1966, Frampton joined The Herd, who went on to have a string of successful singles during the late ’60s, and The Beatles were Frampton’s leading inspiration. Their artistry left him spellbound, and the moment he first heard Sgt. Pepper’s will never leave him. “This was so anticipated by everybody. I remember going up to London with my girlfriend to Petticoat Lane, where there’s a weekend morning market, and we were just rooting around,” he recounted to The Quietus. “It was the week before Sgt. Pepper’s… came out and we found a store, which was obviously illegal, that had got quite a bunch of Sgt. Pepper’s… a week before it was released.”
Frampton vividly continued, “We drove home as fast as we could and I remember sitting on the floor of my girlfriend’s parents’ house and having the album on repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. And listening to side A, side B, side A, side B. I think it was light when we started and dark when we finished.”
Adding: “It was so different and the recording techniques were so advanced, with not that advanced equipment for the time. It just made everybody go, ‘WHAT? Where did this come from?!'”.
Frampton couldn’t believe the kaleidoscopic sounds being bellowed out of the stereo, and it changed his whole perspective on music at a crucial time in his budding career. The teenage talent absorbed the record like a sponge, and The Beatles’ experimentalism infected his artistry as a result.
“For me, the overall concept and the sound and the production and the way things were put together for that album were very enlightening to me,” he added. “I had to work it out, how they did it. It was magic to me when I first heard it. The flanging and phasing and backwards guitar, they literally took the analogue tape and threw it up in the air and then it came down and they played it back. It was very revolutionary”.
The musical landscape pre and post-Sgt. Pepper’s were two entirely different entities. Everyone felt they needed to raise their game a level. It wasn’t solely impressionable young artists like Frampton who felt inspired by the album, but even their so-called rivals, The Rolling Stones, who turned into Beatles imitators. ‘The Fab Four’ specialised in moving the sonic goalposts, and the cultural shift was tectonic in the wake of Sgt. Pepper’s.