Country-rock artist George Frayne, aka Commander Cody, dead at age 77

Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic

George Frayne IV, the veteran country-rock musician better known by his stage name Commander Cody, died Sunday at the age of 77 after battling cancer for several years, Variety reports.

During the late 1960s and ’70s, Frayne led the group Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, which formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and relocated to San Francisco in 1969. In 1972, the band scored a top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with a cover of the 1955 spoken-sung rockabilly-flavored country tune “Hot Rod Lincoln.”

Frayne’s wife, Sue, announced his passing in a message on his Facebook page that reads, “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 your hearts break, too. Thank you so much for all the love you gave and the stories you shared.”

Sue also revealed that two “big gatherings” were being planned — one on Long Island, New York, and one in the Bay Area — to celebrate Commander Cody’s life and also “benefit musicians in need.”

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen’s music combined elements of country, rockabilly, Western swing, jump blues, jazz and boogie-woogie. The band broke up in 1976, after which, Frayne continued to tour and record under the Commander Cody moniker.

Frayne also was an accomplished painter who published a book of his visual art titled Art Music & Life in 2009. He also taught art at the college level. In addition, an experimental video he made called “Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries” is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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