Chapter 2 – The Birth of Love Affair

Stairway – circa 1975; from left to right – John Zdravecky, Wayne Cukras, Rich Spina, Mike Hudak, Wes Coolbaugh.

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.

As they graduated from high school the members of Stairway began playing five nights or more each week. Otto Neuber also owned a booking agency and his management skills 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
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 summer 1980
Love Affair – summer 1980

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.

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.

Love Affair - late 1978
Love Affair – late 1978; from left to right – Wes Coolbaugh, John Zdravecky, Rich Spina, Wayne Cukras, Mike Hudak.