George Frayne, who led the country-rock band Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, died today (September 26, 2021), at age 77. The announcement of his passing was posted on his Facebook page by his wife, Sue Casanova…
The eight-piece band, with Frayne on keyboards and as one of their many vocalists, was formed in 1967, and brilliantly fused country, rockabilly, western swing, R&B and vintage rock ’n’ roll.
The news of his death arrived three days after another post from his wife asked, “Can you send George some brilliantly good energy and love right now?”
The announcement of his death was written in the form of a poem:
Early this morning
As I lay my head upon his shoulder
George’s soul took to flight
I am heartbroken and weary
And I know you are too
Thank you so much for all the love you gave
And the stories you shared
We are working on 2 big gatherings
On both the east and west coast
(The Island and the Bay Area)
To celebrate the Old Commander’s phenomenal life
And to benefit musicians in need.
The band’s name was inspired by 1950s film serials featuring the character Commando Kody and from a feature version of an earlier serial, King of the Rocket Men, released under the title Lost Planet Airmen.
The Cody band’s classic lineup, whose members came from such far-flung locales as Alabama, California, Connecticut, Michigan, West Virginia, Idaho and New York, also featured Billy C. Farlow (harmonica, vocals), John Tichy (guitar, vocals), Bill Kirchen (guitar, vocals), Andy Stein (saxophone, fiddle), “Buffalo” Bruce Barlow (bass guitar), Lance Dickerson (drums), and Steve “The West Virginia Creeper” Davis, followed by Bobby Black (pedal steel guitar).
They toured non-stop to a legion of dedicated fans and recorded seven studio albums, preferring a no-frills, back-to-basics approach. Their 1971 debut, Lost in the Ozone, released by the Paramount label, included their sole Top 40 hit, a cover of “Hot Rod Lincoln.”