"That was very weird," Russell remembered. "We'd play an arena with 25 thousand seats, and everyone sat down. Around the perimeter, there was all the Red Guard with machine guns. If anyone even looked like they were going to stand up, the guards would motion for them to remain seated."
Air Supply also played Vietnam, Taiwan and El Salvador, which not only made the band new fans but also opened up venues for many other artists.
Lately, of course, Air Supply has had a nice resurgence.
"We released our 16th record last year, and surprise, surprise, we had two Top 30 hits," he laughed.
Russell has no idea how that happened. As far as he can tell, Air Supply still does the same thing it's always done.
He writes most of the songs, though songwriting isn't something he plans for.
"I just know when it's coming," he said. "I'm a big believer in inspiration strikes pretty fast. It's like thunder and lightning and you have to grab it."
Air Supply's best work, Russell said, was all written in just a few minutes.
"Lost in Love was written in 15 minutes. Most of our other big hits were written in half an hour or maybe an hour. That's just the way they come."
After the songs are written, Russell often records them and plays them for Hitchcock, who has final say on what he sings.
"Russell has the high voice," Graham Russell said. "It's much higher than mine, and usually, he'll say something about whether we should take it up a couple of steps or drop it down lower."
And sometimes he turns the song down or pushes it back toward Russell.
"We let the universe take its shape," he said. "We don't plan that much."
The music, Russell added, really isn't very complicated: just four or five chords, none of them especially fancy. No one, he said, is ever wondering how he did something.
"But our music is passionate," he said. "It comes from a great place. It's love, and love is serious, not complicated. Love is the simplest thing in the world, even if we don't know anything about it -- least of all, me."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.