Air Supply marking musical partnership in Dover

Graham Russell, left, and Russell Hitchcock have marked more than 40 years as pop music duo Air Supply. They will play a sold-out show at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Graham Russell, left, and Russell Hitchcock have marked more than 40 years as pop music duo Air Supply. They will play a sold-out show at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Russell Hitchcock remembers the exact date. It was May 12, 1975, when he met Graham Russell.

“It was the first day of rehearsals for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in Australia. There were maybe 40 to 60 people in the cast and we just found each other,” he recalled.

“Two days later, we started working on some songs together. That memory is indelibly engraved on my psyche forever. It’s where it all started.”

The two eventually became the pop duo Air Supply and the rest, as they say, is musical history.

Air Supply makes a stop at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center for a sold-out show Aug. 19 at 9 p.m., bringing with them a raft of hits including “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” “The One That You Love” and “Sweet Dreams.”

Best Bets logo -NEWThe group was a hit-making machine in the early 1980s, amassing eight top-10 songs in the United States.

But success in the U.S. was difficult at first.

Four albums found success in Australia before music industry executive Clive Davis heard a five-and-a-half minute version of “Lost in Love” in 1980. He asked the duo to re-record a shorter version of it for his Arista Records label in America and the song became the fastest-selling single in the world.

The resulting album of the same name had three top-five singles in the United States.

“If you look at the history of rock ’n’ roll, the goal for every popular music group is to be successful in America,” said Mr. Hitchcock during a phone interview Monday morning from his home in Atlanta.

“We had great success in Australia and after our first couple of albums, we told the record company we wanted to go to America. They wanted us to stay in Australia and make us the biggest band in Australia.

“But we wanted to be the biggest band in the world. We felt indestructible back then.”

Mr. Hitchcock says they still do.

“We have an amazing business relationship and neither of us have brothers so we both feel like we are the brothers that neither of us ever had,” he said.

“I can’t speak for Graham but from my perspective, if I do a project without him, I always feel like a little piece of me is missing. He’s not there to give me support. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with great producers and songwriters but it’s what we can do together that makes it work I think.”

Mr. Hitchcock says the formula is simple. It’s all about the music — Mr. Russell’s songwriting combined with Mr. Hitchcock’s lead vocals.

“It started with ‘Lost in Love.’ It was a big hit in Australia and it took nearly three years to get to the U.S. and it went through the roof when it finally did. If you look back and try and analyze it, it was a just a great melody and simple lyrics,” Mr. Hitchcock said.

“It continued with ‘All Out of Love.’ There was nothing fancy about it. He’d be the first to tell you that he writes simple songs but they go straight to the heart and stick with people.”

The division of duties has never changed with the two in 40-plus years.

“Most every interview we do, we’re asked if we ever clash. We don’t and we both say the same thing. Graham doesn’t want to be the lead singer and I don’t write songs,” Mr. Hitchcock said.

“I don’t want to do what he does and he doesn’t want to do what I do. It’s a great relationship.”

Despite all the hits, Mr. Russell has never won a Grammy for songwriting. That’s a sore point with Mr. Hitchcock.

“It’s a travesty. He’s an amazing songwriter. We have recorded 22 CDs of original material. This year we released a song called ‘I Adore You.’ You can find the video on YouTube. I think it’s one of the best songs he’s ever written,” he said.

“But it doesn’t get airplay. We’ve asked DJs about playing our newer songs and we’ve been told ‘People don’t want new songs. They want the old songs.’ But as Graham has said, there can’t be any old songs until there are new songs.”

The Dover audience can expect to hear their more-recent tunes along with all of their classic material.

“We never want to be a band that just says ‘Here are the hits from the 80s.’ We play a bunch of stuff. We’ve had success in the last year with two songs on the dance charts. One called ‘Desert Sea Sky’ and another one called ‘Shake It.’ They are hugely popular in our shows,” Mr. Hitchcock said.

“We don’t just sing ‘Lost and Love’ and ‘‘Two Less Lonely People in the World.’ It’s a loud rock ’n’ roll show with phenomenal players.”

Both in their mid-60s, Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Russell still play about 130 shows a year and have no plans to stop.

“We’re still playing to millions around the world and selling out most everywhere we play. And as long as that continues to happen, we see no reason to stop,” Mr. Hitchcock said.

“When we go out every night, I say to the band ‘This is the first concert for the rest of your life.’ We give 100 percent every night and expect that from everyone in their band.”

Mr. Hitchcock says they now see four generations of fans at their shows.

“When someone heard a song 40 years ago or 30 years ago and they are still coming to see you, that’s just a great thing,” he said.

“That’s a just a testament to the strength of our performance and how that song has touched a particular person. That’s what it’s all about.”

Still Kickin’

For those who grew up right along with Air Supply and others of a certain age, the Schwartz Center for the Arts has a chance for you.

“Alive! 55+ and Kickin,’ ” a celebration of life featuring a full company of performers who are age 55 and over, will play the Schwartz Center for the Arts Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.

The 3 p.m. show is nearly sold out.

The production is a project of the MAMA Foundation, whose mission is to present, preserve, and promote the history and fundamentals of gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music for current and future generations.

The foundation has established a cultural space in Harlem where youth and adults have access to quality training and employment as performing artists.

Tickets may be purchased at www.schwartzcenter.com or in person at the Schwartz Center Box Office, 226 State St., Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In advance of the performance, a talent search will be conducted by ALIVE!’s 55+ New York City directors Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro  at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Schwartz Center.

In keeping with the spirit of the show, participants trying out should be at least 55 years of age and be prepared to share their talent performing a traditional gospel song, such as “Amazing Grace.”

In addition, each contestant should be prepared to deliver a one- to two-minute personal testimony about a turning point in their life or the story of how they overcame adversity. Winners selected by the directors will perform the day of the show. Interested contestants should register for the talent search before Tuesday.

For more information, call (302) 678-5152 or email at media@schwartzcenter.com.

Corbin at NASCAR race

Word came this week that country music star Easton Corbin will perform a free concert at Dover International Speedway’s Victory Plaza prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Oct. 2.

Mr. Corbin will also sing the national anthem before the race, which will feature the first four driver eliminations of

Easton Corbin photo 2 by .

Country singer Easton Corbin will perform at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center Nov. 27 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Mr. Corbin’s Victory Plaza concert will begin at 11 a.m.

The Florida native rocketed on the country music scene in 2010 with his self-titled debut album, which included the No. 1 hits “A Little

More Country Than That,” and “Roll With It.” The two top releases made him the first country male artist in 17 years to have his first two singles reach No. 1.

In 2012, two more of his singles, “All Over the Road,” and “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” from the album “All Over the Road,” reached Top-5 status.

Mr. Corbin’s most recent album, the No. 1 hit “About to Get Real,” has produced singles “Baby Be My Love Song,” a Top-5 hit which was his career-best debut on Country Airplay, and “Yup.”

He performed in concert at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center in November of last year.

Mr. Corbin spent the first half of 2016 opening for Carrie Underwood as part of “The Storyteller Tour,” which made 45 stops in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He is also a partner with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization which focuses on military families.

For tickets or more information for Dover International Speedway’s Sept. 30-Oct. 2 NASCAR tripleheader weekend, call (800) 441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is adult animated film “Sausage Party,” the Disney remake of the family film “Pete’s Dragon” and Meryl Streep in the biopic of singer “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated “The Angry Birds Movie” and the faith-based sequel “God’s Not Dead 2.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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