Ironically, the year America celebrated its 200th birthday and independence from England, it was a British rock star who held the No. 1 spot on the American rock album charts for 10 weeks.
Peter Frampton had released four albums with little success, but his fifth, a double disc called “Frampton Comes Alive,” exploded in sales. Frampton became one of the hottest concert tickets in the country.
He was so in demand, it would take two more years before he played a date near enough to my hometown of Ashdown, Arkansas, that any of my high school classmates and I could go see him play.
The decision to take my buddy Scotty’s 1974 red VW Beetle to the Frampton concert had more to do with economics than common sense. My 1972 Olds Cutlass Supreme rode like a dream. The trunk was large enough; we could have put his Beetle in it.
But for two guys who were making $2.10 an hour at the Piggly Wiggly, fuel efficiency trumped comfort. We needed the extra money to afford the tickets to the show, and the required accoutrements that were standard fare in the 1970s.
Even though none of the three of us making the trip (my girlfriend also went) weighed more than 135 pounds, it was still a tight fit on the ride to Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport.
Three could easily fit with two in the back and the driver, but the decision was made that we’d all three ride in the front. Mind you, a Beetle has bucket seats.
There were two reasons for this. One, I wanted to show my affection for my then-girlfriend; and two, Scotty refused to look like a chauffeur by allowing Bonnie and I to sit in the backseat while he drove.
So, it was determined, through the wisdom of 17-year-old brains, that I would ride in the front passenger seat, and Bonnie would make the trip sitting in my lap.
By the time we arrived to see the man who was at the time, one of the biggest rock acts in the world, I couldn’t feel my legs.
There likely were a couple of reasons for that. One was the aforementioned accoutrements, but mostly, I’d lost most of the circulation where she had been sitting.
When we rolled into the parking lot at Hirsch, she and Scotty hopped out and began walking to the entrance.
I just hopped. Not wanting to be slugged by Bonnie, I blamed it on the accoutrements.
Security wasn’t what it is today. The three of us hustled quickly through the doors with thousands of other teens.
After the opening band, Peter and his band came right out and played virtually every song from “Frampton Comes Alive,” including “Show Me The Way,” “Baby I Love Your Way,” and “Do You Feel Like We Do?”
And he played them with the same perfection as I’d heard them thousands of times on the album at home and through the windows of my Cutlass.
In the 70s, we would drive to a deserted road or to a pasture. We’d park, kill the engine, and turn the key to accessory. We all would sit on either the hood or trunk, leaning on the windshield and back glass, smoke cigarettes and stare at the stars.
Many of those nights, it was “Frampton Comes Alive” that played over and over as the 8-track clicked between tracks.
It was a great time to be a teenager. We had Frampton, The Eagles, Zeppelin, Skynyrd and Pink Floyd. Up until recently, many of them, in some incarnation or another, were still touring.
I know each generation feels that their teen years were the best ever, but I argue that’s not true. You never hear, “Gee, do you think the Spice Girls will ever get back together?” or “I sure miss KC and the Sunshine Band.”
But an Eagles or Foreigner concert still sells out.
I write this because Peter Frampton announced he can no longer perform live. As is the case for many of us who were living life to the fullest when Nixon, Ford, and Carter were the presidents, Peter’s age has caught up with him.
He has a degenerative muscle disease.
There are many bands of my youth I never had the chance to see. But I did see Peter Frampton. And for that I’m grateful.
Even if the ride over was more like a Pink Floyd song — “Comfortably Numb.”
To buy John Moore’s book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit www.TheCountryWriter.com.