Graham Russell (left) and Russell Hitchcock (right) of Air Supply, 2006
Air Supply are a soft rock duo, consisting of English singer-songwriter and guitarist Graham Russell and Australian lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock. They had a succession of hits worldwide, including eight Top Ten hits in the United States, in the early 1980s. They formed in Australia in 1975 and have included various accompanying musicians and singers. The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) inducted Air Supply into their Hall of Fame on 1 December 2013 at the annual ARIA Awards.
Chrissie Hammond, Russell Hitchcock, and Graham Russell met in May 1975 while performing in the Australian production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar. With Hammond and Hitchcock on vocals and Russell on guitar, they formed a harmony vocal group in Melbourne, while the show was still playing. Hammond left the vocal group to form Cheetah and was replaced by Jeremy Paul (ex-Soffrok and later Divinyls) on bass guitar and vocals in 1976. Together, Hitchcock, Russell and Paul formed Air Supply. The group's first single, "Love and Other Bruises", was released in November 1976 and peaked at No. 6 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart in January 1977. It was followed by Air Supply, their debut album, in December, which reached No. 17 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart and achieved gold in Australia. The album was produced by Peter Dawkins (Spectrum, Ross Ryan) with Air Supply line-up as Hitchcock, Paul, Russell and drummer Jeff Browne, guitarist Mark McEntee and keyboardist, arranger Adrian Scott. Other singles were "If You Knew Me", "Empty Pages" and "Feel the Breeze" but none reached the Top 40. A national tour followed with Hitchcock, Paul, Russell and Scott joined by Nigel Macara (ex-Tamam Shud, Ariel) on drums and Brenton White (Skintight) on guitar. Brenton White rehearsed but did not perform with Air Supply
Their second album, The Whole Thing's Started, also produced by Dawkins, was released in July 1977 with White replaced on lead guitar by Alan Kendall. The album spawned the singles "Do What You Do" (June), "That's How the Whole Thing Started" (October) and "Do It Again" (February 1978) but neither album nor singles charted into the Top 40. From late 1977, the group supported Rod Stewart during his tour of Australia--he invited them to continue to the United States and Canada. Their third album, Love & Other Bruises, which included re-recordings of some earlier tracks, was made mid-tour in Los Angeles in July-August and released later that year in the US on Columbia Records with Jimmy Horowitz producing. During the tour, Paul left the band with a new line-up of Hitchcock, Macara, and Russell, plus Rex Goh on guitar, Joey Carbone on keyboards, Robin LeMesurier on lead guitar and Howard Sukimoto on bass guitar. Paul, in 1980, recruited fellow former Air Supply bandmate McEntee in the line-up of Divinyls, fronted by Chrissie Amphlett. Air Supply performed in London supporting Chicago and Boz Scaggs.
Although their music had some commercial success, Russell claimed, on a 1995 DVD, that he and Hitchcock were so poor that they checked the backs of hotel sofas for change so that they could buy bread to make toast. By early 1978, the line-up was Hitchcock, Russell, and Macara with George Terry and Joey Murcia on guitar, George Bitzer on keyboards and Harold Cowart on bass guitar. However, by mid-1978, only Hitchcock and Russell remained in the line-up, backed by Ralph Cooper (Windchase) on drums and former Sailor members Brian Hamilton on bass guitar and vocals and David Moyse on guitar.
In April 1979, the band released Life Support, a concept album which included a picture disc on its first printing. The album was recorded at Trafalgar Studios in Sydney. The album had a five-and-a-half-minute version of "Lost in Love", written by Graham Russell in 15 minutes; it was released as a single and peaked at No. 13 in Australia and No. 13 in New Zealand. The track caught the attention of Arista Records boss Clive Davis, who remixed the song and released it as a single in the US early the next year. In late November 1979 Russell was embroiled in a bitter court case with Samuel Nay over accusations of assault at a backstage meet and greet in Oklahoma. Nay would later pass away during the court case and all charges were dropped. The line-up for the album kept Hitchcock, Russell, Cooper, and Moyse, and added Criston Barker (bass) and Frank Esler-Smith (keyboards/orchestra arrangements) with help from other session musicians. Esler-Smith had previously known Hitchcock and Russell from working with them in Jesus Christ Superstar.
A re-recorded and remixed version of "Lost in Love" was released internationally as a single in January 1980 on Arista Records. The associated album, Lost in Love, appeared in March and contained three US Top 5 singles, including the title track which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard Hot 100. The other US Top 5 singles were "Every Woman in the World" (No. 5) and "All Out of Love" (No. 2). Both singles were Top 10 hits in Australia with "All Out of Love" reaching No. 17 in the Netherlands and reaching No. 11 on the United Kingdom Singles Chart. The album kept the same line-up as before, with Hitchcock, Russell, Cooper, Moyse, Barker and Esler-Smith. The album sold three million copies in the US and peaked at No. 22 on Billboard 200.
In 1981, Air Supply released The One That You Love, produced by Russell, David Foster and Harry Maslin with the title track issued as a single which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also featured two other Top 5 hits, "Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)" and "Sweet Dreams". A fourth single, "I'll Never Get Enough of You" was released in Japan and achieved Top 10 status. By the recording for this album, Barker left and was replaced by David Green. Also, previous Air Supply guitarist Rex Goh returned for the album, co-writing "I Want to Give It All" with Russell.
Russell and Hitchcock also from time to time were relief hosts on the music program Solid Gold. It is believed that they initially filled in when Andy Gibb was a no show for an episode that they performed on. However, Gibb's "no shows" soon became more frequent, which resulted in his termination. Even though this was not their usual job, the duo made an impression on producers and the audience who enjoyed their accents, and they were asked to host every so often until the show was cancelled.
Their next album Now and Forever, released in 1982 with the same seven-piece line-up (Hitchcock, Russell, Moyse, Goh, Esler-Smith, Green and Cooper), continued the group's popularity with the Top 5 hit "Even the Nights Are Better" and two Top 40 singles, "Young Love" and "Two Less Lonely People in the World".
In 1983, they released their Greatest Hits album with a new single, "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", written by Jim Steinman. The song was one of their biggest hits ever spending three weeks at No. 2, and the album eventually sold 7 million copies.
That same year, Air Supply also released their first live video, Air Supply Live in Hawaii. In 1984, their song "I Can Wait Forever" was featured in a scene of the blockbuster movie Ghostbusters, and was included in the soundtrack album.
By the mid-1980s, Goh, Moyse, and Green had all left the line-up, and the band's 1985 self-titled album featured Don Cromwell and former Babys member Wally Stocker filling the bass and guitar roles, respectively. This album included a Top 20 Billboard hit with "Just as I Am" as well as a cover of the Jennifer Rush song "The Power of Love". The band then had a couple of minor hits ("Lonely Is the Night" and "One More Chance") from the album Hearts in Motion released in 1986.
Russell and Hitchcock recorded a 1987 Christmas Album (containing the holiday single "The Eyes of a Child") before taking a break as a band. During this time, Hitchcock released his self-titled album in 1988 which was not a big seller. However, he did have the single "Swear to Your Heart" in 1990 - from the movie soundtrack for Arachnophobia - which received significant airplay.
On 21 August 1989, using their old producer and welcoming the return of drummer Ralph Cooper, the duo decided to enter the studio again to record The Earth Is, which was released in 1991 by Giant Records under Warner Bros. Records. The recording contains their hit single "Without You," along with singles for "Stronger Than the Night" (with a music video announcing that Air Supply was back) and "Stop the Tears" and the album sold more than one million copies. Inside the album is a note about Hitchcock and Russell's original Musical Director of their meeting place during Jesus Christ Superstar (and long time Band Member/Orchestrator): "This Album Is Dedicated to the Memory of Frank Esler-Smith." Esler-Smith had died earlier that year (1991) from pneumonia.
The official fan club released The Earth Is World Tour video, a rare collector's item that contains live footage from the band's global tour in support of the album.
The album was followed by The Vanishing Race in 1993, which was supported by the hit single "Goodbye", with lyrics by David Foster and Linda Thompson--which, although not popular in the United States, was critically praised and gained a large following outside the country, especially in Asia where in many countries it would reach number No. 1. In Taiwan, Power Station & Terry Lin (a huge fan of Air Supply himself) covered it and cleverly called it "I'd rather love the sea/Shanghai rather than loving you" as a play on Shanghai's geographical relationship with the sea in 2009. This would lead to another world tour in 1993 which included Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Dick Smith. "It's Never too Late" was another single released from the Vanishing Race. The album itself was dedicated to the plight of the American Indians, the "Vanishing Race" of the album's title, in which the album sold 4 million copies.
Their third album of the decade, News from Nowhere, was released in 1995. It contained the Asian hit singles "Someone", "Always", and a cover of "Unchained Melody".
Their popularity continued to soar in Southeast Asian countries, culminating in the release of Now and Forever: Greatest Hits Live, a CD and DVD recording of a live concert in Taipei, Taiwan, also in 1995, which stayed at the top of the Asian album charts for 16 weeks.
They continued to tour heavily throughout Asia and in select venues in the US, and continued to release the more adult contemporary titled The Book of Love (1997), Yours Truly (2001), and Across the Concrete Sky (2003). In 2005, they released a live CD/DVD recording, and performed in Havana, Cuba, becoming one of the first foreign bands invited to perform in the country. They were booked to perform two concerts, and played the first show on 7 July, the day before Hurricane Dennis hit the country. In high winds, their first concert had an audience of 175,000. Due to the hurricane, they could not play the second show. Fans staying at the same hotel as Air Supply on 8 July had to be content with Russell performing acoustically for them, as there was no electricity. Their songs were featured in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Wedding Date and Bad Company.
In 2006, they released an acoustic album, The Singer and the Song, and were gearing up for the release of their first studio album in three years, Zed. In support of the acoustic album, they made their first trip to India in May 2006. On 2 December 2006, the duo performed to a capacity crowd in Kingston, Jamaica. This was their second visit to Jamaica, having performed at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in January 2006. They also have been seen endorsing Time-Life's Classic Soft-Rock Collection. In 2007, Russell released his first adult contemporary solo album called The Future.
Russell made an appearance in Believe, a comedy about multi-level marketing. In 2008, based on their chart performance, they were ranked the 83rd best musical act of all time in Billboard Hot 100's 50th anniversary edition. They appeared on Don't Forget the Lyrics on 19 December 2008.
In May 2010, Air Supply released Mumbo Jumbo, the duo's first studio recording in eight years. It was recorded at Graham Russell's home studio near Park City, Utah and at Odds On Records' state of the art facilities in Las Vegas with top session musicians and an orchestra. Mumbo Jumbo was produced by Russell and engineered by Odds On's Sean O'Dwyer, whose credits include Pink Floyd, Randy Newman and Blink-182. Among the 14 tracks was the first single "Dance with Me", which reached number 28 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and "Faith in Love", which charted at number 30 on the same chart.
In October 2012, Air Supply were honoured by the Ride of Fame. A double-decker tour bus was dedicated to them and now roams the streets of New York City. On 24 October 2013, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) announced that Air Supply were to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on 1 December 2013 at the same ceremony as the annual ARIA Awards. Speaking on behalf of the duo, Hitchcock declared it being a great honour for them and was totally unexpected. He continued that the pair were due to return to Australia for the ceremony and "have fun with everybody and we want to say thank you to all who participated in our ARIA Hall of Fame induction".
In 2014, Air Supply were approached by the Wideboys to remix their single "Desert Sea Sky". Penned by Russell, the track received the royal studio treatment by the UK remix duo, who created multiple versions of the song for promotion across the board to Billboard dance club DJs, clubs, radio stations and the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. On 2 December 2014, Evolution Music Group released Air Supply's first high-definition concert film, Air SupplyU - Live in Hong Kong on their evosound label. The title was released on Blu-ray, DVD, CD and LP formats. The concert was recorded on 11 August 2013 at Asia World-Expo, Hong Kong. The concert featured performances of new songs, "Desert Sea Sky", "Dance with Me" and "I Won't Stop Living You", alongside their classic hits.
In 2015, "I Want You" reached number 35 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart for the week ending 26 September 2015. That same month they released the single "I Adore You".
Air Supply were scheduled to perform in Haifa on Friday November 25, 2016 but had to postpone due to fires raging the region. The band decided to give 200 free tickets to the wives of the Firemen through the Haifa Fire Department workers union.
In February 2018, it was announced that a jukebox musical based on Air Supply's songs was in production in the Philippines. Written by Canadian playwright Jim Millan and starring Mig Ayesa, Rachel Alejandro, Tanya Manalang, Raymund Concepcion, and Jamie Wilson, All Out of Love: The Musical made its premiere at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila October 18, 2018. The musical features a new song titled "I Was in Love With You", written by Graham Russell.