There were few who could better tap into the cosmic side of country music, and no one could sail as deep into the ozone layer as Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. And now the band's famous pilot, the captain, keyboardist and singer Commander Cody himself, Mr. George Frayne, has flown his last mission.
On Sunday morning, September 26th, it was announced that George Frayne had died of cancer in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen revolutionized the space where country and rock crossed by bringing a wild, easy-going, and uninhibited attitude to music. They were the coolness that everyone wanted to be, and every music scene wanted to claim them for themselves. But it all officially began in the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, though the band eventually moved to Berkeley, California and also became closely associated with the Austin hippie / cowboy scene at Armadillo World Headquarters.
They only had one real hit – a remake of the 1955 song "Hot Rod Lincoln", which entered the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1972. But “Seeds and Stems” is the song that many bands and artists stole the idea from while their live albums Live From Deep in the Heart of Texas (1974) were recorded at The Armadillo, We & # 39; ve Got a Live One Here! (1976) and the indispensable country trucker records Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truckers Favorites (1972) make for rock-hard record store finds that have withstood the test of time, not to mention the band's original studio albums like Lost in the Ozon ( 1971), Country Casanova (1973) and Tales from the Ozone (1975).
Officially founded in 1967 after George Frayne earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Michigan, Frayne began dedicating himself to the band after completing his masters in sculpture and painting in 1968, and they made themselves stronger on the way of the world-class Telecaster by Bill Kirchen and the saxophone / violin player Andy Stein. Inspired by country, rock, western swing, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues, their live shows were marvelous, and the wild nature of their performances inspired bands like the Texan mainstays Asleep at the Wheel, to which Commander Cody even persuaded Cody to move there California for a layover.
The original Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen burned hot, but didn't burn too long. The businessmen signed to Paramount Records and later to Warner Bros. and wanted to turn it into a version of The Eagles or something like that. But they couldn't be tamed and were even more difficult to market than the band's legion of loyal fans. They toured with The Grateful Dead and also opened once for Led Zepplin before the original band officially broke up in 1976.
However, George Frayne kept the Commander Cody name for many years, and did so in several iterations, including Commander Cody Band, Commander Cody and His Modern Day Airmen, and Commander Cody and His Western Airmen, but mostly just Commander Cody, whom he went up to by the way to his death. Bill Kirchen and Andy Stein continued their musical careers, with Bill becoming one of the most revered Telecaster players in history and Andy Stein playing in the house band of A Prairie Home Companion.
George Frayne has never lost his passion for the visual arts either. Originally born July 19, 1944 in Boise, Idaho, he received adequate education in all kinds of media while in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. Eventually, Frayne moved permanently to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he spent most of four decades. He worked with acrylic paints and depicted a variety of subjects, from pop art to portraits of vintage cars. Frayne also published a book Art Music and Life through Qualiber Publications in 2009.
A major figure in both country and rock, George Frayne, aka Commander Cody, is sorely missed, while the seeds he sown with the other Lost Planet Airmen can still be seen and heard in country and rock today .