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Coming up for air

Graham Russell, singer-songwriter and guitarist in soft rock duo Air Supply, chats about Rod Stewart and paths in the jungle.

Bizcommunity Eugene Yiga: You guys formed in Australia back in 1975. What was it like in the early days?

Graham Russell: The early days were quite different from today, of course. We were very young and didn't know what we were doing, so we couldn't make any mistakes. It was exciting as our records began to get played and people knew who we were. We were creating a sound without realising it.

Coming up for air

So far, you've performed in dozens of countries around the world. What would you say is your favourite location, and why?

GR: My favourite location is backstage right before we go on. I love the anticipation and the screaming crowd that are ready for us, wherever we are in the world.

You've said that performing for Prince Charles and Princess Diana (both of whom were ardent fans) is one of your most treasured career moments. What other favourite performance memories come to mind?

GR: Playing with Rod [Stewart] in our early years was such an amazing experience for us. It brought us into the real world of a global possibility. Rod was such a superstar and there we were, young, green, but eager to learn from The Master, which we did.

After selling 100 million albums and recently being inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, you're still going strong. How do you stay fresh and "reinvent" yourselves for modern audiences?

GR: We stay fresh by doing what we have always done, and that is not to follow anyone else but to carve our own path through the jungle. Being true to ourselves and not compromising is our greatest asset. We love what we do and we are lucky to be doing what we love; we don't take that lightly.

What do you have planned for the South African concerts?

GR: For South Africa, we will play the show that we decide upon about one hour before we step onto the stage. We never know until then, [so] we feel the energy of the city and the country, and that "feels" us the show to play!

And what's next for you after that?

GR: We have a new dance track that is climbing the dance charts here in the US; we have two musicals at various stages of production; we have a new live DVD coming out next month; and we have shows booked way into 2015 - so that's enough for the moment!

Air Supply performs at Cape Town's Grand West Casino on Thursday, 24 April and Johannesburg's Emperors Palace on Friday 25 and Saturday 26. Book at Computicket.

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.

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