Starting in the 1980, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, the principals in Air Supply, created a stream of love songs that reached the top of music charts throughout the world.
Air Supply’s hits, many of which feature the word love in the title, include “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” “The One That You Love,” “Every Woman in the World” and “Making Love (Out of Nothing At All).”
Russell, a native of the U.K. who immigrated to Australia when he was 17, met Hitchcock in 1975 when they were both cast in a Sydney production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Mutual Beatles fans, Russell and Hitchcock quickly became friends. Straightaway, too, they started working together as a duo performing songs written by Russell.
“It was almost like it was predestined,” Russell said from his home in Park City, Utah. “We just sounded good from the very first time. And we had the same name, we both loved the Beatles, we were born in the same month. All these things gave us all these signs that said, ‘Hey, you guys should work together.’ So we did. And it was effortless.”
Meanwhile, Russell lobbied Jesus Christ Superstar’s director to make better use of his gifted new friend’s tenor voice. Hitchcock wasn’t even singing in the show because he’d been cast as a soldier and soldiers didn’t sing.
“But he ended up playing Peter, Jesus, Judas, every role in the show except Mary,” Russell recalled. “Of course, he hasn’t got the legs to play Mary.”
Russell and Hitchcock stayed with Jesus Christ Superstar for 18 months. They subsequently signed with CBS Records in Australia, got a No. 1 song in their homeland and toured with Rod Stewart in Australia, the U.S. and Canada. In 1980, “Lost in Love,” from the duo’s album, Life Support, became an international hit.
Now approaching the 40th anniversary of Air Supply, Russell can say that he and Hitchcock have never argued once during the entirety of their joint careers.
“I think we’ve gotten along so well, for so long,” Russell said, “because he does what he does within the band and I have my jobs and the things that I need to achieve. We both do them separately and then we come together. That’s what Air Supply is.”
Of course, Russell’s work includes writing songs, doing so with Hitchcock’s voice in mind.
“I know his range and I put notes in songs that I know will affect people when he sings them,” he said. “Because he has that wonderful tenor. It’s not as high as it was years ago but it’s still quite amazing.
“When we work on a new song, it always comes naturally. I start singing and he just jumps in. Then we automatically swap to the best harmony. It just happens.”
Thirty-eight years since the duo formed, Air Supply tours constantly throughout the world. The band’s extraordinarily far-flung tour schedule stretches from Bali to Baton Rouge. Asia and South America are especially enthusiastic markets.
“That’s our greatest medium in our career, playing live, and the people really enjoy it. We may not be on the charts anymore, but we’re fortunate to be a very in demand touring band, and we really love playing for the people.”