Here They Are: Air Supply still rocking


Early in their partnership, Air Supply guitarist Graham Russell and singer Russell Hitchcock got a harsh lesson in how fleeting success can be in the world of music.

The two met in Sydney, Australia, when they landed gigs in the chorus for a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1975. They hit it off so famously that within days, they were working on songs Russell had been writing.

While they toured in Jesus Christ Superstar, Russell and Hitchcock wrote and recorded songs and in 1976, released a single, “Love and Other Bruises,” which caught on with radio in Australia and became a chart-topping hit.

“It was so bizarre. We just left Superstar a couple of days (earlier). We have the No. 1 single, and the next week we had the No. 1 album,” Russell said. That good fortune continued. Seeing Air Supply’s success, Rod Stewart tapped the group to open an Australian tour and kept Air Supply on board for tours of America and Canada.

After the tour, however, interest in the band ground to a halt. Rather than give up on their dream, Russell set out to write new songs, and that group of 15 or so included such familiar tunes as “All Out of Love,” “The Woman You Love” and “Lost In Love.” The latter song was released as a single in Australia in 1979, and the magic returned.

“It was a big hit again (in Australia),” Russell said. “But we still didn’t make any money.”

Fortunately, Clive Davis—the record industry legend known for helping to launch the careers of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston and numerous others—had a plan.

“Clive heard the record, and unknown to us, bought the record, bought the rights and released it. We didn’t even know,” Russell recounted. “But we were glad when we found out. The first time we saw it or knew about it, it was in the Billboard top; it came in at #72 or something.”

Davis, who was president of Arista Records at the time, had yet to contact Russell or Hitchcock. So Russell took the initiative and met him in Los Angeles a short time later.

“He (Davis) said, ‘OK, you’ve got to get back to Australia and make that album right away. ‘Lost In Love’ is going to be the biggest song of the year,’” Russell said. “I couldn’t really believe that, but he said it. He said, ‘Get back there. Your career is about to take off.’”

Over the next six-plus years, Air Supply followed the double-platinum 1980 “Lost In Love” album with four more studio albums, three of which went platinum or gold, spinning out singles like “All Out of Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” “The One That You Love,” “Here I Am,” “Even the Nights Are Better, “Two Less Lonely People in the World” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”—all of which went top 5 or better in the states.

“It’s a rock and roll band in whatever form. We just play a lot of big, epic ballad songs, but we play a lot of other stuff, too, that everyone knows,” Russell said. “But in essence, it’s a rock and roll band, and it’s loud and powerful. For the people that think it’s going to be Peter, Paul and Mary, they’re very much surprised.”

Air Supply performs at 8pm, Thursday, Feb. 8, at Graton Resort & Casino, 288 Golf Course Dr. W, Rohnert Park. At press time, tickets had sold out.

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