The Commander Cody Band
Memories in Music first got in touch with Commander Cody to ask if he might share a memory of the 1979 Knebworth Festival, where he and his band shared the bill with Led Zeppelin. He very kindly sent some photos from his personal collection, and has been very gracious corresponding with us. We hope to collaborate for charities in the future. If you are unfamiliar with The Commander Cody Band you are in for a treat! Below is a bio, and some music too! Enjoy.
The band was first conceived in 1968, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but arrived in San Francisco in 1969, just in time to catch the tale end of the summer of love. They were 8 pieces strong, with the Commander himself (a.k.a. George Frayne) on the piano, 3 guitarists, fiddle/sax, pedal steel guitar, bass and drums - out of which 4 sang lead.
The repertoire stretched from old time rock and roll; 20 FLIGHT ROCK, red neck country; TRUCK DRIVIN' MAN, boogie-woogie; BEAT ME DADDY 8 TO THE BAR, Cajun; DIGGY LIGGY LO, swing/jazz; SMOKE, SMOKE, SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE, plus their self-penned party anthems; TOO MUCH FUN, I'M DOWN TO SEEDS AND STEMS AGAIN, and LOST IN THE OZONE. Basically, they represented the essence of American roots music.
Eventually, they signed to Paramount Records, and the twangy HOT ROD LINCOLN was a runaway hit, reaching the top ten in 1972. A few more tunes breached the top 40 as they hit the concert trail, playing the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, and finding themselves on bills with the Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Jefferson Airplane, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and The Eagles. They also backed up legends Gene Vincent, Link Wray and John Lennon. Later, their 1974 album "Live From Deep in the Heart of Texas" was named as one of Rolling Stones 100 Greatest of all times!
As always, the old Commander Cody himself is behind the piano, leading the musical mayhem and controlled chaos, and sporting his legendary antics and ability to spark up even the toughest crowds. Today the Commander Cody Band is closely knit with the legendary George Frayne a.k.a. "The Commander" (leader /keyboards/vocals), Steve Barbuto (drums/vocals), Rick Mullen (bass) and Mark Emerick on lead guitar and vocals. Frequent guest steel guitar appearances by Bobby Black, Tiny Olson, John Wingren and Don E. Curtis of Scotty's Music add to the fun. This new edition of the band harks back to the instrumental virtuosity and spontaneity of the original band, and the response from critics and crowds have been overwhelmingly positive.
Memories of Knebworth '79 Links:
- Remembering Knebworth '79
- Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg: His memories of Knebworth '79
- The Commander Cody Band: Rare photos from The Commander's personal collection
- Fan Memories: We were there! Steve Blewitt and Ian Avey
- Fan Photographs: Danny Groves - Led Zeppelin onstage
- Fan Memorabilia of Knebworth: Ian Avey and Caz Kay