Peter Frampton and guitar, together again

Peter Frampton shows Anthony Mason his prized Gibson Les Paul guitar that he'd lost more than 30 years ago in a cargo plane crash in Venezuela - and which was recently returned to him.

Once upon a time, "Baby I Love Your Way" was a huge hit for Peter Frampton, an artist whose time seems to have come again . . . after quite a LONG time. He tells all to Anthony Mason now in our Sunday Profile:

Almost overnight in the 1970s, Peter Frampton became a phenomenon. When the English rocker with the cascading hair released "Frampton Comes Alive," it quickly became what was then the biggest-selling live album ever.

When asked how it felt to hear himself on the radio everywhere, Frampton replied, "Well, you know you're on the radio too much when even you change the channel!"

Frampton's descent would prove almost as abrupt as his rise.

And just as success was slipping away for the musician, the unthinkable happened. His guitar, the one on the album cover, was lost when a cargo plane carrying his concert gear crashed:

"I almost couldn't play another guitar. It was so part of me," he said. "It was connected to me."

"Did you feel kind of like you lost the guitar and your career?" Mason asked.

"Well, it seemed to be!" he laughed. "I lost my mojo."

This is the story of how Peter Frampton got it back.

A former marriage took the 61-year-old Frampton to the Cincinnati suburbs, where he's built his dream studio, and where you'll find the massive platinum plaque commemorating the sales of "Frampton Comes Alive!" now 18 million and counting.

"It's almost like it's not me," he said. "Like it's another lifetime."

"But it's hanging in your house."

"I know. It's HIS. THAT guy."

In 1976 "that guy" was a guitar player who'd had modest success with a band called Humble Pie and as a solo act, but nothing foreshadowed what was about to happen with "Frampton Comes Alive."

The album would spend 10 weeks at the top of the charts, and produce three hit singles.

Web Exclusive Video: Watch extended interview and performance excerpts by clicking on the video player below.

When asked if he were ready for that success, Frampton said, "I don't think anybody's ready for the biggest-selling record of all time - and you're 25!

"No one's been here before. Who do I listen to? When Ringo came to the show in L.A., I said, 'So, what happens now?' And he said, 'Well, I don't know. It's your career!'"

Rolling Stone wanted Frampton on its cover, and assigned celebrity photographer Francesco Scavullo, who begged the new rock idol to take his shirt off: "I'm, 'No, no, no, no, no.' And then he wore me down. Wore me down. He said, 'Peter, just one shot. Please, take the shirt off.' So I go, 'Oh alright. Okay. But this is just for you, right?' Like I'm an idiot? Yes, I'm an idiot!" he laughed.

His pop star image quickly became a curse. "You can lose your male audience" with that image, he said.

And then there was his movie career: He starred, with the Bee Gees in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," one of the epic film disasters of the seventies.

Frampton's follow-up record, meanwhile, produced another hit song. But "I'm in You" the album would sell ONLY 3 million copies.

"It was deemed a failure," said Frampton. And his record sales would continue to slide. "We're getting on to the lean years?" he laughed.

Those "lean years" would last well into the eighties, when Frampton got help from a friend. In 1987 David Bowie asked him to tour with him as his lead guitarist on the Glass Spider Tour: "He was now reintroducing me as the guitar player."

"Which is what you wanted?" asked Mason.

"Yeah. A pop star's career lasts 18 months. A musician's career lasts a lifetime. And that's what I've learned."