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Peter Frampton by Richard E. Aaron

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In Richard's words: "One day Peter Frampton, whom I had photographed many times by the early 70's, called and asked if he could take my photo portfolio of him to A&M headquarters in Los Angeles. The senior art director was looking for a photograph for Peter's next record, a live concert album. Of course I agreed but thought nothing more of it. Although I was already in demand as a photo-journalist, I had pretty much given up on ever having an album cover credit; art directors, it seemed, preferred studio shots. A few weeks later, I got a message on my answering service that Peter had called and that it was "very important" that I return his call in L. A. By this time, his career was beginning to take off, and the answering service operator was impressed that he had called -- "Do you really know Frampton?" The message came in at 9:30 a.m., which made it only 6:30 a.m. in Los Angeles. I reached Peter immediately, and he said, "Richard are you standing or sitting?" " Why?" I asked. "Well you should sit. You not only got the cover of my LP but you also got three out of four of the shots inside the double album. " I was in shock. Finally after three years, I got my first album cover, and it was from a musician who's music I actually liked and who was also a friend. He knew that it was my first album cover and he congratulated me. A few months later at a party for Peter in New York, he showed me a mock-up of the cover -- a gatefold with a performing shot of Peter that extended over both outer sleeves. This was the first time I had seen the photo A&M had picked. The art department had put an extra diffusion filter over the photo to give the hypnotic effect to the viewer, a dreamy effect. The two background stage lights to the side of Peter's head had been re-positioned to make it more symmetrical, and also some coloring added in selected areas on the print. At the time, the only thing that really bothered me was that the focus wasn't sharp; I was trained to believe that every photo had to be technically perfect -- no exceptions. What would my professors at New York School of Visual Arts and the Brooks Institute say when they saw it? Through the years, colleagues would good-naturedly kid me about the focus. At first, I would say that I had purposely used a diffusion filter. Then, about 10 years later on a radio interview, I came clean -- I told everybody it was out of focus. The album went on to become the biggest selling live LP in history, which just goes to show you: teachers, and critics, aren't always right."