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Air Supply - Profile of the '80s Soft Rock Hitmakers

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Air Supply - Profile of the '80s Soft Rock Hitmakers Album Cover Image Courtesy of Arista Records

Formed:

1976 in Melbourne, Australia

Primary Members:

  • Graham Russell (born June 1, 1950 in Sherwood, Nottingham, England) - Acoustic guitar, lead & harmony vocals, songwriter
  • Russell Hitchcock (born June 15, 1949 in Melbourne, Australia) - Lead & harmony vocals

Air Supply's Early Years:

Although in essence Air Supply has always functioned as a duo, the group actually started out as a full-fledged band. After Russell and Hitchcock met in 1975 while performing in an Australian production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, the two formed a band that recorded two albums in the late '70s that garnered little attention outside Australia. In 1978 the duo shrugged off its struggles and hired the four musicians with whom they would record Air Supply's future hits. Still, Russell and Hitchcock had to wait until the next decade to sign a recording contract with Arista and become hitmakers.

Lost in Cash, and I Don't Know Much:

Having landed its recording contract on the strength of a long version of "Lost in Love" released in Australia, a remixed single was released on Air Supply's 1980 debut of the same name. The song quickly reached the Top 5 on the American pop charts, followed immediately by two others that helped propel the album to double-platinum sales. In the wake of disco and punk rock, Air Supply had established a firm niche as the antithesis to extreme musical styles, and for a short time during the early part of the decade, Russell and Hitchcock could simply do no wrong.

Once at the Summit, the Ride Down Is Swift:

The title track of Air Supply's next album, The One That You Love, earned the pair its first and only No. 1 hit in America, and although the hits kept coming for a few more years, this was undoubtedly the pinnacle of the duo's grip on the zeitgeist. After all, recording and releasing soft rock love ballad after love ballad opened the group up to scrutiny and backlash from music fans who didn't approve of the "soft" part of Air Supply's sweeping rock sound. Nonetheless, the duo enjoyed what was essentially its last genuine hurrah in 1983, with the unforgettable "Making Love Out of Nothing at All."

Air Supply Presses on in the Face of Dwindling Relevance:

After 1983 Air Supply would chart only one more major pop hit, the No. 19 "Just As I Am." This wasn't entirely the duo's fault, as its over-the-top balladry necessarily sported a short shelf life. However, perhaps it wasn't the best idea to move further and further away from the skilled, personal songwriting of Russell that made Air Supply a household name in the first place. By the end of the decade the group seemed only a footnote to the decade, destined to become a relic of record store bargain bins. But that doesn't mean Russell and Hitchcock ever really stopped performing together.

Interesting Air Supply Facts:

  • Non-American audiences tend to have a particularly ongoing taste for Air Supply. In fact, in 2005 the duo became one of a select few of foreign pop artists to perform in Cuba, playing before massive crowds even as a hurricane prepared to make landfall.
  • Hitchcock holds the note at the end of "All Out of Love" for more than 20 seconds, a feat Casey Kasem once recounted as a record at the time for the Top 40.
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