Commander Cody Band
George Frayne, a student in Graduate school at the University of Michigan in 1967, put a band together with his pal John Tichy, an engineering PhD candidate. The first group was more of a "happening" than anything else, featuring the Tap Dancing Green Sisters, Pat the Hippie Strippie, and of course, The Galactic Twist Queens with a supporting cast of anywhere between 5 and fifty hippies, featuring a kazoo section of up to 6 degenerates.
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The Commander character is taken from Commando Cody, Skymarshall of the Universe, the Original Rocket Man, the star of the movie "The Lost Planet Airmen" (Republic Pictures, 1952.)
After graduation in 1968, Cody was not able to cope with an actual job situation (Assistant Professor of Art) at Wisconsin State University. He drove back and forth 14 hours a week to Ann Arbor, Michigan every weekend to appear with the band and their new singer/ harp player Billy C. Farlow of Decatur, Alabama.
George and Billy C. penned the first original tunes "Down to Seeds and Stems Again" and "Back to Tennessee" in a library during a break in finals. After 2 semesters, George quit teaching and jumped into the Ozone Van with Billy C. and the steel guitar player, then the West Virginia Creeper, and headed for the Coast.
In San Francisco for the summer of 1969, the band caught the tail end of the famous psychedelic scene. They found a home in the saloons of Berkeley and after packing a local dive known as Mandrake's every night, they got some executives from Paramount Records to sign them up.
Bill Hirchen, who had previously left the band in Ann Arbor for San Francisco was the key ingredient in Cody moving West. After a year, John had gotten his PhD in Engineering from Georgia Tech and moved to California. Andy Stein moved out in the Fall of 1969 and the band was complete. That is, after pilfering Charlie Musselwhite's rhythm section for Paul "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow on Bass and Lance Dickerson on drums. This eight piece bought an old Greyhound bus and hit the road.
The first album "Lost in the Ozone" coughed up a hit single "Hot Rod Lincoln" which sold a million copies and launched the boys into Rock and Roll history!
They recorded four albums for Paramount Records which are released today on Compact Disc and cassette by MCA. They next recorded three albums for Warner Brothers and broke up after a long European tour in 1976.
The last of the three albums was a historical 2-album live set "Got a Live One Here" with Norton Buffalo, who joined the band for their last tour.
In 1977, Cody, Kirchen, Stein, Tichy, and Billy C. all went in different directions. Cody made 2 albums on Arista and worked with Delaney Bramlett and Nicolette Larson. He teamed up with Bill Kirchen's Moonlighters in 1979 and some of that personnel are featured on the Relix release "Aces High" (April 1990)
In 1995, Metal thrasher Sugar Ray sampled Cody's Lincoln vocal for Atlantic Records hit "Mean Machine". Royalties forthcoming...
Today, the Lost Planet Airmen include Peter Walsh (formerly with Seatrain and Hoodoo Rhythm Devils), Guitar Monster Dave Tolmie (formerly with Maria Muldaur, Roy Rogers, and the Delta Blues Band) and of course the Commander, George Frayne, as well as a drummer and various special artists.
1975- Billboard International; Best Live Band
1990- Independent Distributors (indie) Country Album of the Year for "Sleazy Roadside Stories"
1991- Independent Distributors (indie) Country Album of the Year for "Aces High"
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