When Graham Russell, a native of England, met up with Australian born Russell Hitchcock during an Australian production of Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar in 1976, neither could have had an inkling of the success they would share together over the next 10 years. With the release of their first album, Air Supply, on Australian label Rainbow Records in 1976, Air Supply, named because both founding members have air zodiac signs, began a decade of controlling the pop album and single charts by releasing one hit after another. The collection of hits would earn them the awards only a few years later. But what really started them on their multi-million selling bonanza was being named opening act for Rod Stewart’s worldwide “Footloose and Fancy Free” tour in 1978.
It was the sweet, whimsical and honeyed combination of Hitchcock’s voice and Grahams overtly-romantic lyricsthat launched them to the top of the adult contemporary charts. According to Detroit Free Press music critic Gary Graff, “Air Supply, after all, is regarded as fare for softies. Russell’s best known works are syrupy love
Members include Russell Hitchcock , (born June 15, 1949, Melbourne, Austrailia), vocals; Graham Russell , (born June 1, 1950, Nottinham UK), guitar and vocals; Ralph Cooper , drums; Rex Goh , guitar; David Green , bass; David Moyse , guitar; and Frank Esler-Smith , keyboards.
Formed in 1976 in Austrailia, Air Supply enjoyed almost a decade of Top Ten hits in America and the world. The band toured often and extensively. Both Russell and Hitchcock took time off for solo projects but rejoined and confined to release an album almost every year.
Awards: 1980 Billboard Top Adult Contemporary Single of the Year for “Here I Am”; American Music Awards Favorite Band, Duo or Group Pop/Rock, 1982; platinum certification for Lost in Love, The One That You Love, and Now and Forever.
Address: Record company —Giant Records, 8900 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 200, Beverly Hills, CA, 90211, (310) 289–5500, fax (310) 289–5501.
songs that might even put a cavity in Barry Manilow’s smile, filled with lush arrangements and harmonies.” Not a bad comparison considering Manilow was an influence on the musicians, along with the Bee-Gees, Bread, and the Beatles. It was those syrupy love songs that enabled Air Supply to release nearly an album a year for almost 20 years and take command of the pop music charts for much of the 1980s.
The first of the duo’s big hits came from their 1980 multi-platinum selling album Lost in Love, recorded with EMI Music Group. “Lost In Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and “All out of Love,” brought Air Supply international success and acclaim. “Lost In Love” became Billboard’s Top Adult Contemporary Single of 1980. Their second album, The One That You Love, released a year later, enjoyed similar success. The saccharine sweet plea “Here I Am” solidified the band’s reputation for writing successful, albeit sappy, love songs. “People are ready to hear more songs about romance,” Hitchcock explained to Bruce Britt in the Detroit Free Press. “People are waking up to the reality that love and romance are what it’s all about. The recordings of Air Supply became a sound track for generations and elevators.
The band did not spend all their time in the recording studio though. Air Supply also toured the world extensively, crooning to a predominantly female crowd. The main attraction according to Britt was, “Hitchcock’s voice, a ringing choirboy tenor, reminiscent of a male Barbara Streisand” Yet, argues Hitchcock in the same review, “We bring the album right to the stage. And every note I sing on record, I sing in concert.” With Graham providing most of the lyrics and music, Air Supply enjoyed successful albums into the middle of the 1980s.
The 1982 Arista Records release Now and Forever, included the hit songs “Even the Nights Are Better,” and “Two Less Lonely People in the World.” In 1983, Air Supply released a greatest hits album filled with their signature heavy orchestrated ballads simply titled Air Supply Greatest Hits in 1983. The song “Making Love Out of Nothing All” was rereleased and made it to number two on the charts.
There was no doubt as to the sovereignty of Air Supply over the radio scene in the 1980s, especially in the United States. According to Billboard magazine, the first six singles Air Supply released entered the United States’ music charts in the top five area. No other band had experienced such success since the heyday of the Jackson Five. As the decade progressed, a change came over the pop music scene. Rougher, synthesize-enhanced bands began to make a move on the position Air Supply held as sugar-coated love songs began to dissolve. Air Supply took two years off to consolidate ideas and songs for a second self-titled album for Arista. “It was clear that their audience was shrinking-the album was their first not to go platinum,” wrote Stephen Thomas Erlewine, reviewing the band for the All-Music Guide web-site.
Another album in 1986, Hearts In Motion, brought the duo minimum success in the U.S. A year later The Christmas Album was released. It was the last album Air Supply would produce for Arista Records. An amiable separation between Hitchock and Russell took place in 1987 and Hitchcock went on to record a solo, self-titled album in 1990. Graham Russell rekindled a side project of his own, a rock opera entitled Sherwood. Russell, originally from Sherwood, England, wrote all the songs for the opera and Air Supply recorded the score.
Air Supply reunited in 1990 and, with a new contract from Giant Records, released The Earth Is in 1991. While well received in Europe and Japan, poor U.S. sales were further proof of Air Supply’s waning American popularity. The same fate would befall the rest of their releases- Vanishing Race, 1993, News From Nowhere, 1995, Now and Forever Live, 1995, and The Book of Love, (1997). While Air Supply has not encountered the endearment from the U.S. they experienced in the mid-80s, Air Supply’s popularity in other countries, especially Japan has increased dramatically. In 1993, a 20-track Air Supply karoake disk was released in Japan. During a tour of Asia, Air Supply recorded the 1995 album Now and Forever-Live, boasting a 16 piece string section. The tour made stops in Indonesia. Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Air Supply, Rainbow Records, 1976
Love and Other Bruises, Columbia, 1977
Lost in Love (includes “Lost in Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and “All Out of Love), Arista, 1980
One That You Love (includes “Here I Am” and “The One that You Love”), Arista 1981
Now and Forever (includes “Even the Nights Are Better” and “Two Less Lonely Peoeple in the World”), Arista, 1982
Making Love- the Very Best of Air Supply, UK release, Arista, 1983
Air Supply, Arista, 1985
Hearts in Motion, Arista, 1986
Christmas Album, Arista 1987
The Earth Is.., Giant, 1991
Vanishing Race, Giant 1993
News From Nowhere (includes “Someone”), Giant, 1995
Book of Love, Giant, 1997
Clark, Donald, ed., The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Viking, 1989.
Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton, eds., Encyclopeida of Rock Stars, DK Publishing, New York, 1996.
Detroit Free Press, September 10, 1981; August 26, 1982; August 16, 1983
Detroit News, September 17, 1981
All-Music Guide, http://www.amg.com
—Gretchen A. Monette
"Air Supply." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 14, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/air-supply
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