Instead of setting his sights on becoming an internationally known pop star, Air Supply vocalist Russell Hitchcock was ready for a life of 9 to 5. That’s what he envisioned when he was growing up. Perhaps more importantly, he was okay with it.
Upon the mention the fact that Air Supply are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, in light of his previous statement, Hitchcock pauses to express his amazement at the way his life has worked out.
“When we released our first record in 1976, I figured we might have four or five years of music-making to look forward to. We weren’t looking ten years ahead, let alone 40, so to be here now, looking back on what we’ve done, what we have achieved, along with the people we have met is nothing short of amazing,” he says.
Hitchcock marvels at just how fast things came together for him and Air Supply guitarist-vocalist Graham Russell following their initial meeting in May 1975.
Both Hitchcock and Russell had landed parts in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney, Australia. Although they did not know each other prior to the time when rehearsals for the production began, it did not take them long to find common musical ground.
“Graham and I became instant friends when we were seated together in the male chorus room for the production. We had much in common, right from the get go, but it was The Beatles over which Graham and I ultimately bonded. He is the only guy I know that ever saw them play live.
“For me personally, it was in high school in 1963 that someone gave me a 7-inch single of ‘Love Me Do.’ That sparked something in me that I hadn’t been exposed to up to that point in my life, having been brought up on guys like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.”
Hitchcock says that approximately a week and a half into rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar, he came upon Russell playing his guitar in a hallway. When the guitarist told Hitchcock that he was playing a song that he had written, the vocalist was immediately impressed.
“I was just so taken with the fact he had written original material that I knew that I wanted to make music with him. We worked on original material and covers and started booking ourselves shows at different venues, just in effort to get out and play. Eventually, those shows evolved into us discussing the fact that we should look at recording four or five songs.”
Much to the duo’s delight, they secured immediate interest from an Australian record company, less than a year after having met. There was a slight snag in their plans to unveil the band to their home country, however:
“Because we were under contract to the Jesus Christ Superstar production, we had to keep the lid on the band until the contract had expired,” Hitchcock says.
Once their contract had run out in October 1976, however, the duo was finally free to see where music could take them.
Their debut single “Love And Other Bruises” shot up the Australian pop charts in 1976, bringing the duo instant success. Not long after, Air Supply was selected as the opening act on Rod Stewart’s Australian tour.
Stewart was so impressed with the group, he invited them to open the North American leg of his tour as well.
It would not be until 1980, with the release of their Lost In Love album that the group would find mainstream success in North America. Buoyed by the album’s title track, the single became one of the fastest-selling songs in the world.
A host of other singles from the band, including “The One That You Love,” “Every Woman In The World,” “Even The Nights Are Better” and “Two Less Lonely People In The World,” taken from subsequent albums The One That You Love (1981) and 1982’s Now And Forever, continued the group’s hot streak.
By the time the band released their first hits retrospective in 1983, which boasted the hit single “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” the duo sold more than 20 million records around the world.
Now with more than 25 albums to their credit, Air Supply’s legacy continues to grow. While Hitchcock doesn’t foresee the band returning to making full-length albums anytime soon, opting instead to release singles moving forward, he says their live performances continue to serve as a great source of inspiration.
Hitchcock says the band routinely performs an average of 130 shows per year, and while that might prove to be a busier schedule than what some of their peers keep, he shares that both he and Russell wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Being on the road entails a lot of personal and physical sacrifice, but we’ve worked hard to still be where we are today,” he says. “Both Graham and I want to be making music as long as we can; we feel as though music has chosen us, not the other way around.”
What: Air Supply
When: Friday July 17, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $29.99 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca