How Peter Frampton Met the Talk Box
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Peter Frampton might be more closely identified with the talk box than any other rock guitarist, but that doesn’t mean he was the first to use it. In fact, as he recently recalled while discussing his 1975 appearance on ‘The Midnight Special,’ he might never have started using it if not for George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Joe Walsh.
“It was just the coolest effect,” Frampton enthused. “I had been actually introduced to it physically on the George Harrison sessions [for] ‘All Things Must Pass.’ I was playing on that, on the tracks, and Pete Drake was brought in from Nashville, the incredible, legendary pedal steel player. I think Bob Dylan had recommended to George that he was on ‘Nashville Skyline.’ And so Pete Drake comes into Abbey Road and he’s sitting right there, and sets up his pedal steel. The nicest, nicest man. He says, ‘Hey, Peter, have you ever heard one of these voice boxes?'”
When Frampton told Drake he’d heard the effect but hadn’t seen it in action, Drake quickly obliged. “He gets out this little box, sets it on the side of the pedal steel there, plugs it in, whatever, a pipe comes out, he sticks it in his mouth, and the pedal steel starts singing to me. It’s like I think I’ve died and gone to heaven — this is the sound, and it’s right in front of me. Pete Drake’s wife had lent that very one to Joe Walsh to do ‘Rocky Mountain Way,’ so that’s how it all started.”
You can watch the complete clip, including a portion of Frampton’s ‘Midnight Special’ performance, at the top of this post. A 6-DVD set and single DVD are both in-stores today. You can also purchase your very own 6-DVD set from from Amazon or the 11-DVD Collector’s Edition from Time Life.