Interview GEORGE FRAYNE (Commander Cody)
By Philippe Archambeau, translation of the questions : Y. Philippot-Degand.
RTJ : Hello George, first thanks for accepting this interview for Road to Jacksonville,
webzine dedicated since 2001 to Southern Rock .
Can you tell us first for our readers where you are born and how you discovered the music in your tender age?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Born in Idaho out west but immediately moved east and grew up in
New York City suburbs and boroughs.
RTJ : How did Commander Cody set up?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Commander Cody comes out of a pub band that played fraternities in the 60s playing top 40 rock and doing rock versions of country and western songs especially Buck Owens.
RTJ : Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen come from? And who had the idea of that name?
GEORGE FRAYNE : We were looking for new band name and I saw the commando Cody character on television with « The Lost Planet Airmen » movie titled. I thought how about starting a country swing band with a « sci fi » name.
RTJ : When the band moved to San Francisco, how was the musical stage over there at that time?
GEORGE FRAYNE : San Fran was great but East Bay was better for us the east bay community was into blues and country and we fit right in the Berkeley clubs.
RTJ : Did you come across the Hell's Angels club or Ken Keisey and his Merry Pranksters?
GEORGE FRAYNE : We ran across the HA a lot and never had a problem with those guys at all -I have had some good friends there.
RTJ : Do you remember Commander Cody's appearence at the Fête de l’Humanité (festival organised by the French Communist Party), in the North of Paris in 1973?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Yes I do.
RTJ : You were known for your marathon concerts, how long lasted the longest concert you played?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Longest we ever played was 2.5 hours, this ‘known for marathon’ concerts quote is something I have heard before. I dont know where it came from but is unwarranted. The typical Commander Cody headline set for concerts in the last 40 years has been 90-100 minutes.
RTJ : Did you have the opportunity to play with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin during the sixties?
GEORGE FRAYNE : No but we played with the Doors, Canned Heat, Byrds, Beach Boys –Dead Airplane- Eagles, Allman Bros, Willine, Waylon, EmmyLou, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin as well as the MC 5, Bob Seger and Alice Cooper.
RTJ : At the begining did the band play a lot of rock'n'roll and country? Was Commander Cody a country-rock band?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Yes more country rockabilly actually- the after we got Bobby Black in the band we all got very serious about our playing.
RTJ : You played also several western swing covers. Did you know the Asleep at the Wheel guys?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Ray Benson started following us and I invited him to move to Oakland in 1972 we used them to open all our shows when we all lived in Berkeley together (until 1974).
RTJ: After the double live released in 1976, the following album "Rock n' Roll again" wasn't really... rock
(except the three last tunes). Was it your choice or the will of the label Arista to sound more funky?
GEORGE FRAYNE : After the LPA broke up I wanted to to something different and was limited by the fact that I couldn’t sing a note in tune.
RTJ : The double live (We've got a live one here) was recorded in England. Did you play a lot in Europe?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Between 1973 and 1983 we went at least once a year, we always had fun and so many adventures. I could and probably will write a book about them.
RTJ : On the next album, Flying Dreams (1978), the sound is much more rock. You make a splendid cover of
"Cry baby cry" from the Beatles and the other titles have a specific style. Did you have a bigger freedom of expression on that record?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Flying dreams : the producer insisted I cover those songs. I shouldn’t have gotten within a million miles of. I was weak they talked me unto stuff. I was desperate. I sucked. I apologize to the world.
RTJ : On the title "Thank you Lone Ranger", the guitars come closer of the Black Oak Arkansas style ("Jim Dandy to the rescue"). Have you played with Southern Rock musicians and what do you think about that musical style?
GEORGE FRAYNE : I enjoy playing a little Southern Rock and have many friends who play.
RTJ : The sleeve art of several albums (Hot Licks and Flying Dreams) is by Chris Frayne.
Is it you or a member of your family?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Chris was my little brother passed away with MS 20 years ago (actually in 1992, he is credited with the cover art for the Lost in the Ozone, Sleazy Roadside Stories, Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers' Favorites, and Country Casanova albums and he shared credit with George for the album cover for Aces High, and designed other album covers in the music industry, editor's note).
RTJ : Did you tour with the Charlie Daniels Band and the Marshall Tucker Band in the 70’s?
Have you an anecdote to tell us?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Toy Caldwell was one of my best friends in the band world. We did a lot of gigs with these guys.
RTJ : Do you feel close to those musicians?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Close but not as close personal friends kinda close.
RTJ : Do you still see Bill Kirchen? Do you sometimes play yet together?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Bill and I do about 4-5 gigs together every year.
RTJ : Mark Emerick released superb albums, how did you meet him before he joins Commander Cody?
Can you tell us more about him?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Met Mark he joined the band - has helped us a lot in the last 18 years.
RTJ : You have made solo albums, is there one of them that you are very proud of and that you could
recommand to our readers ?
GEORGE FRAYNE : I like the album I made with Bill Kirchen called Let's Rock on the Blind Pig label the best.
RTJ : How can your fans get one of your paintings or sculptures ?
GEORGE FRAYNE : We sell through galeries and through the Internet- all conversations about art take place through the email@example.com address The art is also featured in the album section of my Facebook page for ideas and available pieces.
RTJ : What are the Commander Cody projects in 2017 ?
GEORGE FRAYNE : European tour for the summer. Someplace warm this winter, just signed album deal, want to smoke better weed and see more cash.
RTJ : If you have to invite a musician on your next record, who would you choose ?
GEORGE FRAYNE : Tower of power.