With seven Top 5 singles to their credit, Air Supply equaled The Beatles run of consecutive Top 5 singles, selling millions and millions of records. And now the legendary band takes to the stage at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City this Saturday for one night only in the Superstar Theater.
It is the duo’s live shows that continue to hold audiences captive around the world, said Graham Russell, 62, one half of the legendary band (along with partner Russell Hitchcock, 63).
Air Supply was the first Western group to tour China, Taiwan and countless other countries that before would not allow pop music across their borders.
“Our live shows have been the main focus of our act for many years,” said Russell. “Our shows are great because there are no lights or bombs going off. We keep it real, and our audience knows it’s real. Often, Russell or I burst into tears because we love the music so much. And we’re always talking to our audience, doing a meet-and-greet after each show, and so we stay very close to them.”
Russell moved to Australia from England when he was 18.
“At that time, I was already playing drums and guitars in a group, and also writing songs, but not doing too well,” he said. “My parents were already living in Australia, so I decided to go there too to start a new life.”
As luck would have it, he eventually did just that, meeting Russell Hitchcock in 1975 on the first day of rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney, Australia. They became instant friends, especially with all the things they had in common.
“We both loved The Beatles and, of course, singing,” Russell recalled. “We also shared the same name, and were born in the same month of June. We also were the only newcomers to Superstar and musical theater in general, so where the other singers kind of stuck together, we did, too.”
After a show ended for the night, the two would play at coffee bars and nightclubs — anywhere they could show off their voices. They quickly gained a reputation for great harmonies as well as the original songs that Russell was constantly writing. Especially appealing was an original song titled Love and Other Bruises, which flew to the top of the charts, and Air Supply was born.
That same year, they opened for Rod Stewart in Australia, the U.S. and Canada, sure of their newfound success. But no such thing happened, and, according to Russell, they had to start all over again, until their Lost In Love song found its way to music industry executive Clive Davis.
“We had our ups and downs until he heard Lost in Love and wanted to buy the record. I eventually found out he was probably the world’s biggest icon in music, representing so many top stars. He released our song, and we were finally on our way. It went to No. 1 and we finally started to make some money. And that was followed by seven or eight top songs in a row, largely due to him,” Russell said.
Describing himself as primarily a songwriter, Russell said he’s done some changing over the years, “especially because now I know what I’m doing. I’ve never had any kind of formal training and am basically self-taught. But this is my fiftieth successful year as a songwriter, and I’m very proud of that.”
And even if Air Supply never produced another record, Russell said he can continue to write songs — and make a living out of it.
“How lucky am I that I can spend my days writing songs, a passion that has never, ever left me, and continues to this day to bring me great joy,” he said. ••
For show times and ticket information, call 1-800-745-3000.