Vocalist Graham Russell has dedicated more than four decades to sharing vocal duties with his concert counterpart Russell Hitchcock as the band’s ballad talent team Air Supply.
“When March 2000 hit the pandemic, we suddenly had about 16 months off, away from live shows,” Russell said, chatting earlier this month by phone from his home in Park City, Utah.
“I spent a lot of that time working on my music writing for musicals.”
In October 2016, Russell and Hitchcock performed at the Silver Creek Event Center at Four Winds New Buffalo on their 40th Anniversary Tour, which launched in 2015.
On April 30, the duo returned to the Silver Creek Event Center for another concert, this time marking their 47th anniversary. The duo head to the Genesee Theater in Waukegan at 7:30 p.m. on May 5. The band celebrated their 5,000th concert in 2020 while touring Las Vegas.
Englishman Russell and Australian Hitchcock met in 1975 while starring in the Australian production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. It was later that year that they unveiled themselves as Air Supply with the release of their successful, self-titled debut album, which went gold in Australia.
“I started my career in the world of musicals with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, but I’ve found it’s easier to write music for musicals when you don’t have not also creating the scene and the story,” said Russell, who spent much of 2019 providing his songwriting talents for the musical “A Wall Apart,” a story from the period of the cold war of a romance that takes place behind the Berlin wall.
“Writing music for musicals is a whole different animal, but I love the challenge.”
Today, the duo’s series of soft rock ballads such as ‘All Out of Love’, ‘Making Love Out of Nothing at All’, ‘Lost in Love’ and other top hits are still popular with plenty of play. , often associated with fans. memorabilia ranging from weddings and proms to record and tape collections and sentiments to match.
Russell said he began to achieve his first moments of growing fame after winning the BMI Song of the Year award in 1980 for writing “Lost in Love”.
“I remember Clive Davis having his usual big party at the Beverly Hills Hotel and here we are, right there in the same room with guests like Rod Stewart,” Russell recalled.
“At the time, we already had some notoriety in Australia. But now we were a hit in the United States and the phone started ringing.
After Dionne Warwick left hosting duties on the syndicated TV show “Solid Gold” in 1981, singers Andy Gibb and Marilyn McCoo stepped in to lead the weekly broadcast of Playlist hits with Graham and Hitchcock in as frequent guests.
“When the producers of ‘Solid Gold’ called and asked if we were going to start hosting when Andy was away, we explained that we weren’t really hosts, but I think they liked our accents,” said Russell said.
“I’m glad we agreed to do it and we made a lot of friends along the way. We also had to learn to read cue cards.
Russell said the gig at the Four Winds will feature all of Air Supply’s greatest hits and plenty of time to joke around with the audience, which is also a favorite opportunity for Hitchcock, who calls Los Angeles home when not. on tour.
“Our fans are the foundation of who we are, and one of our favorite traditions is our concerts that we perform every Memorial Day and also every Labor Day at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas,” Russell said.
“We’ve done these two holiday concerts in Las Vegas for the past 23 years and we have fans from all over the world.”
Russell said he was also surprised to hear Air Supply songs featured in media, ranging from TV commercials to movie soundtracks. One of the band’s first experiences hearing one of their songs in a movie was “I Can Wait Forever” used for the soundtrack to the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters.”
“Just a few months ago I heard our song ‘The Power of Love’ in the new Spider-Man movie,” Russell said.
“We are alerted when a project wants to use our music and our songs. But sometimes it’s still a surprise.
In February 2020, the company Primary Wave entered into a publishing and recording agreement with Air Supply to purchase part of the band’s song catalog.
“We sold some of our song catalog, but not all of it,” Russell said.
When: 9 p.m. EST on April 30
Or: Silver Creek Events Center, Four Winds Casino, 11111 Wilson Road, New Buffalo, Michigan
Information: 866-494-6371, fourwindscasino.com
When: 7:30 p.m. May 5
Or: 203 N. Genesee Street, Waukegan
Information: 847-263-6300; geneseetheatre.com
Philip Potempa is a freelance journalist for the Post-Tribune.