Friday, December 14, 2012

Commander Cody

Commander Cody
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen is an American country rock band founded in 1967. Core members included founder George Frayne IV (alias Commander Cody, born 19 July 1944, Boise City, Idaho, USA) on keyboards & vocals; Billy C. Farlow (b. Decatur, Alabama, USA) on vocals & harmonica; John Tichy (b. St. Louis, Missouri, USA) on guitar & vocals; Bill Kirchen (b. 29 January 1948, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) on lead guitar; Andy Stein (b. 31 August 1948, New York, USA) on saxophone & fiddle; Paul "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow (b. 3 December 1948, Oxnard, California, USA) on bass guitar; Lance Dickerson (b. 15 October 1948, Livonia, Michigan, USA; d.10 November 2003 in Fairfax, CA, U.S) on drums; and Bobby Black on steel guitar.

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

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) 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.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 1970s. 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,

"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.

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