PLATTSBURGH - Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen are making a stop in the North Country.
The band, most famous for its 1972 hit "Hot Rod Lincoln," will be performing at Gilligan's Getaway, 7160State Route 9, this Saturday, March 5.
Commander Cody's roots trace back to 1963, when co-founder John Tichy was studying engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. According to co-founder George Frayne, Tichy was running the kitchen crew at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and playing guitar in "The Amblers," the only student band on campus.
"I was washing pots in the kitchen and doing a pretty poor job at it, when we became friends," recalled Frayne, "and John found that I had played some piano and had taken some lessons."
Tichy invited him "to jam along" and soon Frayne was playing on the band's version of "You are My Sunshine." The two played with lead singer Frank Winchester, bassist Guy Curtiss and drummer Steve Conley until the following year when Winchester died in an automobile accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The remaining members moved on to new projects later that year, but it wasn't until 1967 that Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen was formed.
The band - named after the 1950 movie of the same name, starring Kristen Coffen as Kommando Kody - was much larger than other past projects for Frayne, Tichy and friends Max Goldman and Steve Davis.
"We had up to 36 members in that band including The Fabulous Tapdancing Green Sisters, The Galactic Twist Queens, Pat the Hippy Strippy and various assortments of honking, blowing and strumming neo radicals who specialized in a form of quasi-social mayhem," said Frayne.
The band released their first album, "Lost in the Ozone," in 1971, which resulted in their best-known song, a version of the Rockabilly song "Hot Rod Lincoln." Their song reached the Top Ten on the Billboard singles chart the following year.
The band has evolved over the years and today consists of Frayne on keys, drummer Steve Barbuto, guitarist Mark Emerick, pedal steel player Chris "Tiny Olson" and bassist Randy Bramwell.
Having the band come to Plattsburgh is something Gilligan's owner Harry Haynes is looking forward to, he said.
"A lot people are excited about having Commander Cody and his band playing at Gilligan's," said Haynes. "I am glad that his killer pedal steel player Tiny Olson will be playing with him. This will be one hot night at Gilligan's."
(Editor's Note: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen's March 5 performance will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 566-8050 or visiting www.lazarbearproductions.com.)