George Frayne, who as leader of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen enjoyed a cult following in the 1970s with such party and concert favorites as “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),” has died.
Frayne died Sunday in Saratoga Springs, New York, according to his wife Sua Casanova, who did not immediately provide further details. He was 77 and had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago.
“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,” Casanova wrote last weekend on her Facebook page.
Formed in 1967, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen drew upon influences ranging from Western swing to jump blues. They became a popular touring and recording act during the first half of the 1970s, getting around the country in a converted Greyhound bus. They specialized in uptempo remakes, notably the top 10 hit “Hot Rod Lincoln”; “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),” a novelty song from the 1940s; “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” and “Diggy Liggy Lo.” The sound was country-rock boogie and the mood lighthearted and ready to get wild, as defined by Frayne’s witty talking-blues vocals.