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The ones that we love

The epically romantic Air Supply

In the early ‘80s Air Supply provided crucial slow dance moments. Photo credit: Jeremy Cornwell

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When editor Bill White assigned this article, he added, "Try not to cry when describing some of the music." He was cracking wise, of course, but he was closer to the truth than he knew.

Return with us now to those totally tubular days of yesteryear, specifically the early 1980s. It was a time before many Weekly Volcano readers were born, a time of Reagan-era nuclear fears, indefensible parachute pants and the dazzling high-tech wizardry of the Atari 2600. It was also an age of jukebox heroes. Granted, it was Foreigner who released "Juke Box Hero," but singer Lou Gramm competed for quarters with the likes of Journey, Van Halen and yes, the epic romanticalness of Australian duo Air Supply. This writer remembers all too well how ubiquitous the songs of Air Supply were in the pizza parlors, video arcades and high school dances of his adolescence. Think Bruno Mars. Think Ed Sheeran. Then think beyond them to air itself, the life-sustaining atmosphere we breathe. If you were a teen during that period, whether you admit it or not now, you carried Air Supply with you on every first date and field trip. And by the time Mr. Deejay spun "The One That You Love" at your senior prom, by God, you'd better have chosen the one that you did love, because an Air Supply slow dance was your fragile heart's Sorting Hat. Once it spoke, that decision could never be taken back.

A bit of history may be in order for readers younger than Elon Musk. Melbourne's Russell Hitchcock and British-born Graham Russell first met in 1975, at a Sydney rehearsal for Jesus Christ Superstar. They shared a love for the Beatles and, apparently, fire-engine-red leather jackets. A year and a half later, they ascended the Australian charts with an inauspicious slow jam called "Love and Other Bruises." They toured extensively and, with an assist from legendary Arista Records exec Clive Davis, earned international success with "Lost in Love" in 1980. "You know you can't fool me; I've been lovin' you too long ..." Sorry. We went away there for a minute.

The album Lost in Love added top-five singles "All Out of Love" and "Every Woman in the World." Then came 1981's The One That You Love, which spawned not only a top-selling title song but also "Here I Am" and "Sweet Dreams." Now and Forever added "Even the Nights Are Better" to Air Supply's radio roster in 1982. What really sealed the deal was a 1983 Greatest Hits album, which included the Jim Steinman-penned "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" and essentially kept the Columbia Record Club solvent for another quarter-century. If that weren't '80s enough, Hitchcock and Russell also appeared on the Ghostbusters soundtrack and often guest-hosted the popular, syndicated dance show Solid Gold.

Were they square? You bet they were, even for the time. Air Supply was always more of a Bread-style '70s act than FM-contemporary power balladeering. But Emerald Queen booked Air Supply only two years after its last Valentine's Day gig at the casino, and that speaks volumes. At time of writing, only a few dozen tickets remain to be sold. Crack a joke if you must, kids, but for Mom and Dad this feather-topped Aussie duo was and is serious business. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you're in your mid-30s, Air Supply might be the reason you exist.

AIR SUPPLY, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14, Emerald Queen Casino, 2024 E. 29th St., Tacoma, $45-$265, 253.594.7777

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