Peter Frampton Has a Rare Muscle Disease
Yesterday (Feb. 22), Peter Frampton announced that he'll embark on his farewell tour this summer and fall, and today, he revealed the reason for his retirement. In a pair of new interviews, he said he suffers from inclusion-body myositis (IBM), a degenerative disease that slowly weakens his muscles.
As he told Rolling Stone, he started to show symptoms eight years ago, when he noticed his ankles getting tight, followed by a weakening of his legs. At the time, he chalked it up to aging, but in 2015, after sustaining a few falls and realizing he now had trouble lifting objects over his head, he consulted a neurologist, who diagnosed him with IBM.
He kept the news a secret from everybody but his family and band -- reassuring them that it's not life-threatening -- and continued with his touring schedule, but as he said on CBS This Morning, another fall while on vacation in Maui with his daughter convinced him that it was time to quit before it spreads to his hands and affects his ability to play guitar.
"The reason I'm calling it the 'farewell tour,'" he said, "is because I know that I will be at the top of my game for this tour and I will make it through this and people won't be saying, 'Oh you know, he can't play as good.' I can. But we just don't know for how long."
He's been working with Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, creating the Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund, which will receive one dollar from every ticket sold on his tour. Although only 24,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, Frampton added that there could be more who with it but think that it's a natural part of the aging process.
"There’s no specific treatment for IBM," he said. "They have traditional medicine that is working. They are coming out with some drug trials. I’m hoping to be involved with those. That is something that is in the future. Right now, the only thing that works for me is exercise. I work out like a maniac all the time. It’s strengthening the muscle that I have. It seems to be the best possible thing for IBM is to work out every day."
Knowing that a time will come when his guitar skills will diminish, he and his band have been working hard at his Nashville studio. He's estimated that they've recorded 33 songs for three projects since October.
"There’s a double album, but I can’t tell you what it’s about since that would spoil the surprise," he said. "We’re working on sorting out the release. Hopefully that will come out in June when the tour starts. There’s that and another single album that we’re finishing off tracking next week and then after, if I can muster it, we’re going to do yet another project. They’re all different. As I say, I can’t really say what they are since it’s not time."
He hopes he will be well enough to do a short European leg next spring, but for now he's scheduled to call time on his performing career on Oct. 12 in San Francisco, where he'll be surrounded by his loved ones.
"I know that all my kids will be there," he said. "My ex-wives will be there. [Laughs] I hope not. No, they probably will. It’s going to be a party and a celebration of what’s going to come. We’re going to celebrate. We’re not going to look backwards. We’re going to go forward. I know I’ve got so much more to do. It will be an emotional evening, obviously. I have such a great support group. My kids. My ex-wives. [Laughs] I’m very lucky."