Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

Andy Stein (left), and John Tichy (right) at the Hollywood Bowl July 21, 1974 opening for the Grateful Dead
Photo: David Gans
Background information
Origin Ann Arbor, Michigan
United States
Genres Country rock, rockabilly and blues
Years active 1967–1976, and 1997-Present as "The Commander Cody Band"[1]
Members
George Frayne (Commander Cody)
Steve Barbuto
Mark Emerick
Greg Irwin (interim)
Past members
John Tichy
Billy C. Farlow
Bill Kirchen
Andy Stein
Paul "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow
Lance Dickerson
Bobby Black
Steve Davis (The West Virginia Creeper)
Peter Siegel
Rick Mullen

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen is an American country rock band founded in 1967. Core members included founder George Frayne, John Tichy, Billy C. Farlow, Bill Kirchen, Andy Stein, Paul "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow, Lance Dickerson, and Bobby Black.

The band’s style mixed country music, rockabilly, and blues, on a foundation of boogie-woogie piano. It was among the first country-rock bands to take its cues less from folk-rock and bluegrass and more from barroom country of the Ernest Tubb and Ray Price style. A pioneer in incorporating Western swing into its style, the band became legendary for marathon live shows.

Contents

History

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Frayne (b. July 19, 1944 in Boise, Idaho) taking the stage name Commander Cody. The band’s name was inspired by 1950s film serials featuring the character Commando Cody and from a feature version of an earlier serial, King of the Rocket Men, released under the title Lost Planet Airmen.

After playing for several years in local bars, the core members migrated to San Francisco (along with the similar Asleep at the Wheel[2]) and soon got a recording contract with Paramount Records. The group released their first album in late 1971, Lost in the Ozone, which yielded its best-known hit, a version of the Rockabilly Hot Rod Lincoln, which reached the top ten on the Billboard singles chart in early 1972. It then moved to Texas;[2] the band's 1974 live recording, Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas features cover art of armadillos by Jim Franklin. The band released several moderately-successful albums through the first half of the 70s. After appearing in the Roger Corman movie Hollywood Boulevard, Frayne disbanded the group in 1976.

John Tichy subsequently earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and became head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York,[2]

"Hot Rod Lincoln", the band's most famous recording, was voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2008. The following year Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.

Geoffrey Stokes' 1976 book Star-Making Machinery featured Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen as its primary case study of music industry production and marketing. Stokes relates the difficulties the band had recording its first album for Warner Bros. Records. The label wanted a hit album along the lines of the soft country-rock of The Eagles, but the band was not inclined to change its raw-edged style.

George Frayne

Retaining his stage name of Commander Cody, Frayne had a subsequent solo career, touring and releasing albums from 1977 on. He released some later albums under the Lost Planet Airmen name. Recent releases have been as The Commander Cody Band. In addition to Frayne, current members of the band include Steve Barbuto on drums and Mark Emerick on guitar.

Frayne is also an artist. He received a bachelor's in design from the University of Michigan in 1966 and a master's in Sculpture and Painting from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies of the University of Michigan in 1968. He taught at University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and has had his art exhibited at numerous shows.[3] He is a student of cinematography, and has a feature film in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent video archive. His paintings are oversized, and present photorealistic images from popular culture.[4]

George's brother Chris Frayne is credited with the cover art for Lost in the Ozone, Sleazy Roadside Stories, and Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers' Favorites albums. He shared credit with George for the album cover for Aces High, and designed other album covers in the music industry. He also wrote songs, including "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read" (on Asleep at the Wheel's album Take Me Back to Tulsa)[5] and produced albums such as Comin' Your Way by John Mooney.[6] Chris died in 1992 of multiple sclerosis.[2] As can be discerned by their art as well as their music, both brothers were interested in hot rods.[2]

Discography

Albums

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US US Country CAN
1971 Lost in the Ozone 82 75 Paramount
1972 Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers Favorites 94
1973 Country Casanova 104 47
1974 Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas 105
1975 Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen 58 95 Warner Bros.
Tales from the Ozone 168
1976 We've Got a Live One Here! 170
1977 Rock 'N Roll Again (Midnight Man) 163 Arista
1978 Flying Dreams
1980 Lose It Tonight Line
1986 Let's Rock Blind Pig
1988 Sleazy Roadside Stories Relix
1990 Aces High
Too Much Fun: The Best Of MCA
1994 Worst Case Scenario Aim
1996 The Tour from Hell (1993)
2000 Live at Gilley's Atlantic
2002 Command Performance BMG
2003 King Biscuit Flower Hour Archive Series: Greatest Hits Live KBFH Records
2005 All the Way from Turkey Trot Fa-Ka-Wee
2009 Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers Blind Pig

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US US Country CAN CAN Country CAN AC
1971 "Lost in the Ozone" Lost in the Ozone
1972 "Hot Rod Lincoln" 9 51 7
"Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar" 81 87
"Truck Stop Rock" Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers Favorites
1973 "Semi-Truck"
"Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" 94 97 99 37 Country Cassanova
1974 "Diggy Liggy Lo" Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas
"Riot in Cell Block No. 9" single only
1975 "Don't Let Go" 56 85 Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
"It's Gonna Be One of Those Nights" Tales from the Ozone

References

  1. ^ http://www.commandercody.com/thebio.cfm
  2. ^ a b c d e "Vile Gossip", Jean Jennings, Automobile Magazine, February, 2007
  3. ^ Curriculum Vitae, George Frayne
  4. ^ Davis, John T., "A brush with art: Sensitive painter George Frayne still rocks as Commander Cody", Austin American-Statesman (October 18, 1986) p D-1
  5. ^ Asleep at the Wheel, Lyrics, The Letter That Johnny Walker Read
  6. ^ Comin' Your Way

External links

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