Michael Overall: Power of music touches fans
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2013
1/28/13 at 4:54 AM
The lead singer of Air Supply came off stage to walk through the audience, Vanessa Gaddis trailing behind him, hoping for a hug, a handshake or maybe just a smile.
But Russell Hitchcock never turned around to notice her, and Vanessa left disappointed after the concert a few years ago at the Tulsa State Fair.
They had sort of met before, a couple of years earlier in Las Vegas, where she went to a show with her father.
Or Daddy, as she still calls him, never mind that she's 43.
Hitchcock came off stage - which he apparently likes to do - and kneeled down next to her seat to sing her a love song.
But Vanessa isn't exactly the typical groupie. With a characteristically prominent forehead and a broad but undersized nose, she has the unmistakable signs of Down syndrome.
"She's never met a stranger," says her father, Bill Gaddis, a local photographer.
"And she never stops smiling. She's happy and wants everyone else to be happy."
Actually, that's exactly the kind of girl you sing a love song to.
The Vegas show rekindled Vanessa's obsession with Air Supply, and especially for Hitchcock, whose picture covered her bedroom walls when she was a kid.
The pop duo had three platinum albums in a row between 1980 and 1983, with several singles reaching the Top 40.
But of course, that was a long time ago, and Hitchcock's dark hair has gone gray.
People laugh at aging rock stars.
Roger Daltrey hoped to die before he got old. And Bono said fans "want their money back if you're alive at 33."
But why? Nobody snickers at George Jones. Nobody wanted B.B. King to retire in 1958.
Singers, like everybody else, get older and wiser. A few wrinkles of your own can help you see a deeper kind of beauty in others.
Friday night at River Spirit Casino, Vanessa caught Hitchcock's eye, and he motioned for her to come up.
She expected a handshake, maybe a hug. But he pulled her toward the steps, and she found herself on stage in front of a sold-out audience.
"I wasn't scared," she told me later. "Because everybody was smiling at me."
Hitchcock wrapped his arm around her.
" 'Cause you are my lady," he sang. "And I am your man. Whenever you reach for me, I'll do all that I can."
Frankly, I had never heard the song before. "The Power of Love" hit the charts in 1985, the same year that The Cure released "Head on the Door," and that was more my speed.
Air Supply wasn't cool back then. And they're certainly not cool now.
The tickets were for my wife, and I made her promise not to tell anybody we were going.
Now? I can't wait for them to come back to Tulsa. And neither can Vanessa.
Original Print Headline: Power of music touches fans