Airplay were an American studio-based melodic-rock combo that released a self-titled album on RCA in 1980. The project was headed by writer/producers David Foster and Jay Graydon, both successful with other acts at the time.

Members: David Foster (keyboards, vocals), Tommy Funderburk (vocals), Jay Graydon (guitars)

David Foster, Jay Graydon Credits

Airplay was assembled by Canadian keyboardist David Foster and American guitarist Jay Graydon. Both had risen within the industry as writers, producers and musical collaborators with a host of charting acts.

During the prior decade, Gradyon notched studio credits on albums by Don Ellis, Stephen Bishop, Randy Crawford, Candi Staton, Marvin Gaye, Alphonse Mouzon, Eddie Kendricks, Kathe Green, Tata Vega, John Valenti, Gino Vannelli, Maxine Nightingale, Gary Wright, Leo Sayer, Boz Scaggs, Nancy Wilson, Alan Sorrenti, Harvey Mason, Marlena Shaw, Steely Dan, George Duke, and Valerie Carter. As a producer, Gradyon was busy during the 1979/80 period with albums by The Manhattan Transfer (Extensions), Steve Kipner (Knock the Walls Down), and Al Jarreau (This Time).

Foster hailed from the bands Skylark and Attitudes. As a musician and writer, he was involved in albums by Eric Tagg, Kim Carnes, Ned Doheny, Alphonso Johnson, Rod Stewart, Lee Ritenour, Brothers Johnson, Sherbet, Flora Purim, Michael Jackson, Russ Ballard, Cheryl Lynn, Teri DeSario, and Carole Bayer Sager. Between 1978 and 1980, Foster produced albums for Hall and Oates (Along the Red Ledge, X-Static), Bill Champlin (Single), Earth, Wind & Fire (I Am), Average White Band (Shine), Boz Scaggs (Middle Man), Ray Kennedy (Ray Kennedy), and Peter Allen (Bi-Coastal). Foster and Graydon interacted on many of these projects.

For Airplay, the pair enlisted vocalist Tommy Funderburk, who’d sung on albums by Keith Green, Franne Golde, Andraé Crouch, and Pockets. Musical backing on the Airplay sessions was primarily handled by two-thirds of Toto: drummer Jeff Porcaro, bassist David Hungate, guitarist Steve Lukather, and keyboardist Steve Porcaro.

Airplay was released on RCA in 1980. It features 10 songs written by the Foster/Graydon team in collaboration with associated talent, including Steve Kipner (three co-writes) and Allee Willis.

Musically, the album ranges from flamboyant rock numbers (“Stranded,” “Cryin’ All Night,” “Leave Me Alone”) to swelling ballads (“It Will Be Alright,” “Should We Carry On”) with the occasional stab at soul-funk (“Bix”). Also included are recordings of “Nothin’ You Can Do About It” (originally cut by the Manhattan Transfer) and the Grammy-winning Foster/Graydon/Champlin composition “After the Love Is Gone,” a US #1 the prior year for Earth, Wind & Fire.

Soundwise, Airplay features the glossy, high-end production sheen that Graydon and especially Foster were instrumental in developing at the turn of the 1980s.

A followup to Airplay was left incomplete as Foster and Graydon got busy with other projects. Foster produced albums by The Tubes (The Completion Backward Principle), Dwayne Ford (Needless Freaking), and Chicago, bringing the latter renewed fame on the 1982–84 albums Chicago 16 and Chicago 17. Graydon did likewise with Al Jarreau and the Manhattan Transfer, helping the latter achieve their greatest jazz/pop crossover success with the 1981 album Mecca for Moderns.

Foster and Graydon resurrected the Airplay nameplate for the high-tech dance number “Stressed Out (Close to the Edge),” a deep-cut on the soundtrack to the 1985 motion picture St. Elmo’s Fire.



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