Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Pretty boy no more.

Some folks probably think of Peter Frampton as the old bald guy with the talking guitar on the insurance commercials. But back in the 70's, Frampton was a force to be reckoned with in pop music. He earned a following as a capable songwriter and as a fine guitarist equally adept at melodic phrasing and fiery runs - and of course, that talk box. But it was his mane of curly blond hair and boyish smile that cemented his image as a rock-star icon and propelled him to multi-platinum status in the late 70's.

Frampton, who lived in Nashville for a time, returned not long ago to talk about the days when everybody had hair:

Peter wasn't alone in his choice of hairstyles back in the disco days: The Who's Roger Daltrey and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant also wore their hair long and curly. "Then one day, Roger, who is a dear friend, told me he was in a bar somewhere. It was 1976, so Comes Alive! had come out. Somebody came up to him and said, 'Could you sign this for me? I'd love your autograph.'

"So (Roger) signed his name. 'No, no, Peter Frampton! Aren't you Peter Frampton?' The next day he cut his hair.

"If you look at the pictures, it's 1976 when he goes from the full mane to barely having any hair."

Uh-huh. Now take a look at the cover of Who Are You, released in 1978. Roger Daltrey is the dude on the far left:

Obviously, Daltrey still had plenty of hair in 1978. Another notable feature of the Who Are You cover much-remarked about at the time was drummer Keith Moon sitting in a chair labeled "Not To Be Taken Away". Moon would die within a month of the release of the LP.

I'm not certain, but I believe Roger Daltrey cut his hair for good while playing the title role in McVicar in 1980. John McVicar was a convicted bank robber who escaped from prison and ultimately earned a sociology degree. It's an excellent film that I recommend if you get the chance to catch it.