Soft rock duo Air Supply have been a pop and adult contemporary chart phenomenon for decades. They are coming to Chandler’s Wild Horse Pass on Friday, June 20, for a night of big hits and love songs.
When Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock signed with Arista Records in 1980, their lives literally changed overnight. Their first single, “Lost In Love,” become one of the fastest-selling singles in the world. The album of the same title sold more than 10 million copies. Their second single, “All Out of Love,” climbed the charts even faster and a handful of additional Top 5 singles followed, equaling The Beatles’ run of consecutive hits.
Since their U.S. debut more than three decades ago, Air Supply has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. They are also riding the crest of their latest single, “Desert Sea Sky,” which extends their Billboard chart success to an incredible five decades while breaking ground in a fresh new genre: dance music.
Lead singer Russell Hitchcock spoke to Get Out to discuss the band’s phenomenal success, their collection of love songs and their improbable new dance hit.
Q: You met your musical partner, Graham Russell, on the set of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in May 1975 and you still consider each other best friends. How do you keep that friendship intact given there’s a lot of pressure in entertainment?
RH: We never really took ourselves that seriously and still don’t. We take the music and the music industry seriously, but we were both brought up in households that wouldn’t allow our egos to get too big. If there was any hint of that behavior, we got taken down pretty quickly. The friendship stays intact because we still have a lot of fun together when we see each other on the road. We really don’t see much of each other when we’re not performing, and we have very different and defined roles within the band. Graham is the songwriter and I’m the singer. We’re not in competition with each other and we’re very much equal partners. We love what we do and we’re grateful for our career.
Q: The most interesting aspect of your story to me is how ‘Lost In Love’ was discovered by music titan Clive Davis a year or so after the song was initially released. He gave it a makeover for the U.S. market. The song went to No. 3 and brought Air Supply into the limelight.
RH: To this day, I have no clue how Clive Davis initially heard “Lost In Love.” We recorded that song in Australia in 1978. It was a big hit for us in that country and about a year and a half later, we found out that Clive had heard it and wanted us to re-record it. We added some background vocals and a female chorus, which I got a little upset about. But hey, it turned out to be a big hit and Clive was right. He’s been the most influential force in our career and you can’t argue with his success and track record. At the time we were both dead broke and didn’t really think we had a future in music, but ‘Lost In Love’ turned everything around and it was quite fantastic.
Q: After ‘Lost In Love,’ Air Supply charted seven Top 5 singles equaling the record The Beatles set in 1964 and you’ve sold more than 100 million albums. How do you account for that sort of popularity and sales figures? No one’s selling those kinds of numbers any longer.
RH: The best answer I can give is that we never stopped working. We’ve been on the road every year since 1975 and when we’re not on the road, we’re in the recording studio. We play close to 120-150 dates a year. We’ve never taken a break and we’ve gone to countries where people would not normally visit. We were one of the first acts to tour Southeast Asia and we go back every year. We went to Latin America and keep going back. There’s a very strong bond with our audience. Because they have been so loyal to us, we’re very loyal to them. It’s a relationship that has to be maintained and nurtured.
Q: Air Supply currently has a huge dance hit with ‘Desert Sea Sky.’ How did that happen?
RH: Graham was walking along the beach one day and he was very inspired to write something new. He played it for a producer, who thought it had a shot at becoming a dance hit and it’s now on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts. We’re more amazed than anyone.
Q: Any special memories of Phoenix?
RH: Well, I lived in Flagstaff for six years, so I’m very familiar with Phoenix. It’s a great town and has so much to offer. We look forward to coming back to the desert.
If you go
What: Air Supply
When: 8 p.m. Friday, June 20
Where: Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler
Information: 1-800-946-4452 or www.wingilariver.com
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