Birth of Love Affair
In February of 1974, Richard played his first date with the newly christened
Stairway at Otto-Sight (in the Flats). Within a few months,
Kolas dropped out of the band and the unit was down to a comfortable quintet.
Stairway, however, was becoming a favorite at dance clubs and high schools.
Richard gradually began fronting the band and singing lead vocals with
more regularity. It was obvious that this guitar-oriented rock outfit
was better served with Richard up front.
Stairway - circa 1975; from left to right - John Zdravecky, Wayne
Cukras, Rich Spina, Mike Hudak, Wes Coolbaugh.
As they graduated from high school the members of Stairway began playing
five nights or more each week. Otto Neuber with partner
John Tevis also owned a booking agency which John headed
and ran. With Otto’s management skills he guided the young rockers
toward a more serious show. Material by Queen, ELO and Led Zeppelin was
highlighted by professional lights and sound, as the band plowed their
money back into building an act.
Stairway - Spring 1975
By 1976 the band was playing the better clubs in Northeast Ohio and making
stabs at writing and performing originals. It was obvious that they were
entering another phase and that recordings and touring would be their
future. For that they would change the name once more.
As names were bandied about the name Love Affair was
decided on because, as Richard puts it, "... it was the least hated
of all the names we came up with." Therefore, in October of that
year, Love Affair played its first show at The Dome in Kent, Ohio. It
was to be the beginning of a wild rock and roll ride!
Because the members of Love Affair were still young and malleable, they
took direction from management well. They also had their collective radar
up for constant changes and trends in the music business. Their goal was
to become a great, modern rock band and they evolved at a rapid pace -
leaving many of their peers in the musical dust, so to speak.
Love Affair - late 1978; from left to right - Wes Coolbaugh, John
Zdravecky, Rich Spina, Wayne Cukras, Mike Hudak
Concert lighting, professional sound systems (including a totally wireless
presentation) and a small army of support crew was employed by the band.
At area clubs such as The Corral, The Utopia, Filthy McNasty's
and The Akron Agora, the quintet plied their
trade and raised the bar for club entertainment in the process. Between
popular dance songs, Love Affair would slip in concert arrangements, medleys
of popular songs and their own originals. It all flowed so well together
that their growing legion of fans didn't notice. As the band rocked harder,
the mostly female fan base changed to include testosterone-driven males
that came for Zeppelin. They walked away humming some of the band's own
tunes; among them was a tough little number (written by Spina, Neuber
and Jim Quinn, formerly of the Damnation Of Adam
Blessing) entitled "Mama Sez." "When
we did our originals, we didn't announce them because we wanted to get
an honest reaction to them," Richard admits today. The band continued
to demo their songs in local studios, but by 1979 they'd come to a crossroads.
Management had already hired a girl to answer their fan mail and the live
show included pyrotechnics, a revolving drum riser and band members walking
through the clubs interacting (wirelessly) with their fans.
Love Affair - summer 1980
As live acts went, Love Affair was becoming one of the finest. Their touring
base started expanding throughout New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
and right through into many parts of Canada. Recording an album at this
point was a given and the band decided to go ahead and record one. The
band's financial independence allowed them to elect to hire a producer
and a studio of their choosing. The plan was to sell a finished product
to a major label - a totally brash move for a little band from Cleveland.