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Peter Frampton’s 1954 Phenix

Not Peter’s guitar. A copy of his guitar. Gibson will set it to you for $25,000 CAD no less. This line is being positioned as a very exclusive collector’s instrument. Gibson made only 35 of them available to the public. I have it on fairly good authority that Peter was given three of them. Always a key thing to keep in mind when buying stupidly expensive guitars. A copy is still a copy.

How much did Peter pay for the original?

Zero.

It was given to him. So now he has four of them.

Life isn’t fair.

My friends at Reverb had passed me a link to an interview that they recently did with Peter Frampton. And he tells the story about how he lost his guitar and how it came back to him decades later.

The story was covered widely back in 2012. From NPR:

That guitar ”” a shiny black number with an added pickup ”” became Frampton’s signature instrument. He continued to use it with Humble Pie, and in his solo material, played it almost exclusively for years. It even made the cover of his classic 1976 live album, Frampton Comes Alive!

In 1980, while Frampton was on tour in South America, the guitar was put on a cargo plane in Venezuela, en route to Panama. The plane crashed right after takeoff.

“Basically I’m thinking, ‘It’s gone,'” Frampton recalls. “But the thing is, I’m also sitting in a restaurant where I can see the pilot’s wife. She’s waiting in the hotel for her husband, who, unfortunately, didn’t make it. So we were all overcome, because people lost their lives as well as our complete stage of gear.”

What Frampton didn’t know is that the guitar had survived, albeit with some bumps and bruises. It fell into the hands of a musician on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, who owned it for many years before a local guitar collector spotted it and contacted Frampton. After some negotiation, the guitar was returned to Frampton last month.

Here is a relatively current shot of Peter with the Phenix (and, yes, that is the spelling for the name of this guitar).

Peter has aged. He is 67 now. I am not that far behind him. He’s still playing. And he is still playing well.

Here is Gibson’s interview with Peter about the same story.