CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Guitar giant Peter Frampton is almost as well known for the quirky use of a gadget called a talk box as he is for his guitar work.
The device allows a musician to alter the sound of a musical instrument to make it "talk" in a fashion, and was synonymous with the British guitar and teen idol through the 1970s after hits like "Show Me The Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do?"
On Thursday, Frampton, his guitar and the talk box will be at the Clay Center, where the Grammy winner will share songs from his latest album, "Thank You Mr. Churchill," along with music from his long career.
Frampton's long association with the talk box began while he was doing session work for George Harrison during the making of "All Things Must Pass." Pete Drake, the pedal steel player from Nashville who'd played on Bob Dylan's Nashville albums, was fiddling around with the talk box when the band was standing around.
"He got out this little box," Frampton said. "He put this little pipe in his mouth and the pedal steel started singing to me. It was a jaw-dropping moment. That's when I knew I needed to find one."
It didn't take him long, though he says Drake didn't give him his.
"Pete lent that one to Joe Walsh to use for 'Rocky Mountain Way.'"
When he got his talk box, Frampton says it took just a couple of weeks to learn to use it. Mastering it took a bit more.
"It's easy to get a sound out of it," he said. "But to actually speak with it?"
That takes a bit of practice to get it right. After 40 years, Frampton says he can do wonders with the talk box.
"I could do a soliloquy with it," he laughed.
And he just might one of these days. At 60, the '70s rock star says he's not slowing down. He feels great, in part to nearly a decade of being sober.
"It's been a whole new world," he said. "I'm not preaching, but it was the best possible thing for me."
Sobriety, Frampton believes, has been the secret ingredient for his renewed creativity. While he's best remembered for "Frampton Comes Alive," one of the best-selling albums of the 1970s, his last album "Fingerprints" won the 2007 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album -- a first for Frampton.
Frampton is also a father. His son Julian sang on his last album. His daughter Mia has a role on ABC Family's "Make It or Break It" and appears in a film with Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, though Frampton can't, for the life of him, remember its name.