Stan Sheldon knew from the minute he met Peter Frampton about 35 years ago that he would become the rock legend's bass player.
And though he has been that ever since, he still doesn't see himself as a rock musician. He's a more cerebral musician with a deep love of all music and its place in history.
"I don't like to define myself as a rock musician because that's not really what I'm all about musically," Sheldon said in a recent interview with the Herald. "I love all the different Latin sounds and jazz, blues, folk and country -- all of it. The bass is very powerful in Latin music. Quite moving, in fact."
But it's the Grammy-winning music he made with Frampton that put Sheldon on the music map. The sold-out Frampton Comes Alive 35 tour makes a stop March 24 at Cordiner Hall on the campus of Whitman College in Walla Walla.
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But there's more to Sheldon than being the savvy bassist for the guy once known as "Handsome" Frampton.
Sheldon's also a music scholar who spent a few years at the University of Kansas in the 1990s studying the 19th century Latin American slave society and the influence it had on music.
"I learned to love Cuban and Costa Rican music during that time," he said.
He describes his blended musical philosophy as one that maintains his passion for music. Plus, he enjoys performing at age 62 even more than when he was 22.
"I really am having more fun today because of sobriety," Sheldon said. "Peter and I have always been musically connected -- even when we spend time apart we still connect instantly when we do get together. This has been a great year of touring with him. He has as many new fans as he has old fans."
When he wasn't touring with Frampton, Sheldon spent time recording with other musician friends such as Lou Gramm, the late Tommy Bolin and the Delbert McClinton band.
He also teaches youngsters to play bass guitar at a music store in Kansas.
"I've been playing guitar since I was 11 years old," he said. "I love the bass because it's a powerful instrument. No other instrument can speak without the bass. It anchors the music to the piece you're playing, providing the rhythm to a melody."
The music also keeps him young, though there is a downside to being a musician when it comes to relationships. He has two grown children with his first wife and is married to his second.
"It's sometimes a tradeoff when you make music your chosen way of life," Sheldon said. "Music usually takes its toll on a relationship because you're gone a lot. It takes a lot of understanding on the part of the person married to a musician.
"I think the secret is to not look at that relationship as a competition with music. All I really know is that I'm in a good place now."
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org