Owen Frampton

Art-teacher father of Peter Frampton whose pupils also included the future David Bowie

Owen Frampton was an inspirational teacher who encouraged his son Peter Frampton to become a rock star and was an influence on the early career of David Bowie. He gave Peter his first guitar lessons and taught Bowie art - when the boy who became Ziggy Stardust was still "David Jones".

Bowie and Frampton were both pupils at Beckenham Technical School in Bromley, Kent, where Frampton père was head of an extensive art department. While his wartime record as an officer in the Royal Artillery contrasted with his work as a teacher, in both roles he was a noted for his compassion and devotion to duty.

Known as "Mr Frampton" or "Ossie" to generations of pupils, Owen Frampton was born in Kennington, London, in 1919. His father was a Royal Navy submariner based at Chatham, Kent; the Frampton family moved from south London to Sheerness to be closer to the naval dockyard. Before the Second World War, Frampton was educated in Beckenham, where he met his future wife, Peggy ffitch, at the age of 13. He later studied for a degree at Goldsmiths' College in New Cross, intending to become a teacher. He played guitar in the college dance band.

After the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the Army and became a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He married Peggy at St John's Church, Eden Park, in 1941. Their marriage lasted 64 years, but after a five-day honeymoon they would not see each other again for five years.

During the war Frampton saw action as a gunner in North Africa, in Sicily and at Monte Cassino in Italy. In 1945 he stayed on in Austria, and was involved in the repatriation of Russian prisoners of war. However, as White Russians they had fought on the side of the Germans and faced a grim future if returned to the Soviet Union. Peter Frampton says:

My father had been put in charge of the Russian prisoners. He got to know them well and didn't care what country they came from. He put on concerts and shows and looked after them. Then he was ordered to send a trainload of White Russians back to Russia. When the empty train came back, the carriages were stained with blood. The prisoners, including women and children, had killed themselves, because they knew what fate awaited them. At that point my father resigned and said he would not send another train back. Many years later he was interviewed on BBC radio about what had been one of the great secrets of the war.

In 1946 Frampton came home to England and studied in the evenings at Beckenham Art School while teaching design, lithography, printing, photography, ceramics and painting at Beckenham Technical School. He was still studying when his son Peter was born in April 1950. He became head of an expanded art department as the school moved from Beckenham to Bromley. His pre-Diploma course enabled many pupils to go straight to art college.

His son Peter went to the Technical High School for a year before moving on to Bromley Grammar:

My father was very good at finding the passion for art within his students. One of his pupils, George Underwood, became a painter and designed three David Bowie album covers, Space Oddity, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.

David and George encouraged Peter to play guitar in their group:

It was 1962 and I was 12 years old. My dad had taught me my first guitar chords. He used to leave the art-block door open so we could bring our guitars in and play Buddy Holly songs.

David Bowie recalls Owen Frampton as

an excellent art teacher and an inspiration . . . Most of his pupils went on to art school and I went to an advertising agency as a designer.

However, Peter had some problems being at the same school as his father:

I didn't enjoy calling him "Sir". My younger brother Clive stayed at the school for five years, but I left after a fracas with one of the pupils my dad didn't get on with. I was beaten up after school. That's why I was sent to Bromley Grammar, although David and George stayed on. When David saw me on Top of the Pops with my first group, the Herd, he shouted: "That's Peter - he should be at school!"

My dad was my first manager. When the Herd asked me to join, he said, "If Peter worked at the post office he'd get £15 a week. So he should get the same in the Herd." As it turned out the band earned a lot more but I still only got my £15. Dad didn't think about that. I got rid of him as my manager after that!

Mr and Mrs Frampton went to see their son perform many times when he became a star with Humble Pie and a highly successful solo artist. In 1976, Frampton Comes Alive sold 12 million copies and was hailed as the biggest-selling "live" album of all time. Peter invited his parents to America and, when Owen retired aged 60, they lived near their son in New York State.

After five years, however, they returned to live in Sussex. Owen Frampton became ill in his last years but stayed in touch with his former pupils as well as his sons Peter and Clive, who sang a specially composed tribute song, "Not Forgotten", at his memorial service.

Chris Welch

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future