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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Air Supply tunesmith does it quick

If you have overheard that some great songs had been written rather quickly, then let Graham Russell, the songwriting genius behind some of Air Supply’s most loved songs, and one half of the iconic ballad duo, tell you that it is true. 

Last Friday at Passion restaurant in Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila, Graham and his high-pitched lead-singing partner Russel Hitchcock naturally got the full attention of the Filipino press when they appeared in person to promote the upcoming All Out Of Love The Musical, which will have its world premiere on Oct. 18 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater.

Graham, whose soothing voice is prominently featured in songs like “Lost In Love,” “Every Woman In The World,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Goodbye,” and yes, “All Out Of Love,” informed, “When I write songs I write them very quickly. ‘All Out Of Love’ took half an hour.”

Asked to say more on how the iconic song, perhaps the most famous among Filipinos who grew up hearing their hits, was written, Graham shared, “It was the first song I wrote on piano. I was in the studio and everybody was gone and I started playing. I just kind of write it right there.”

Although Clive Davis shared the songwriting credit with Graham, the legendary American record producer’s only contribution to the song is the line “I’m so lost without you” to replace “I want to arrest you.” Good suggestion, Clive! 

But Graham’s ability to score hits is unquestionable. That gift is celebrated for the musical described as a production “boasting an Australian creative team and an all-Filipino cast.”

Graham Russel and Russel Hitchcock posed with the Filipino cast of 'All Out of Love The Musical.'

According to director Darren Yap, the story is modern fairy tale set in New York and beautifully woven together by Air Supply hits, 17 of them. The cast includes Mig Ayesa, Rachel Alejandro, Tanya Manalang, Raymund Concepcion, and Jamie Wilson, who loves to play the bad guy making the good guy look better. 

“It’s very exciting for us that something like this is happening,” Graham noted, “It seems to be a natural step for our catalogue.”

Russel, whose oh-so-distinctive vocals were initially thought by a US DJ to be that of a girl’s, added, “It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase Graham’s songs. We have a loving and caring relationship with the Philippines.” 

The musical will be staged in “strictly limited season” on Oct.18 to 21, and then Oct. 25 to 28. All shows to start 8:00 p.m. while the Saturday and Sunday schedules have matinee performances set at 3:00 p.m.. 

For all their association with '80s ballads, the hit-making duo has a knack for effortless good jokes. In trying to put into context what “All Out Of Love” meant to him as a composer, Graham, with a winsome smile, labeled it as simply his “first piano song.” He then recalled the American DJ who kept playing “Lost In Love” and mistook Russel for a girl. That DJ declared, “If that group goes here in America, I’m going to go out with that girl!”

Russel immediately butted in, “And of course it never happened.”

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