Stairway / Love Affair / L.A. / Unknown Stranger / Skyport
As Love Affair, this Cleveland band nearly became a major band, playing high energy rock music in the prime time for AOR rock. Before they were Love Affair, they started out in early 1974 as Stairway, with Wes Coolbaugh (vocals and guitar), Mike Hudak (drums), Rich Spina (lead vocals, keyboards), Wayne Cukras (bass), and John Zdravecky (lead guitar). Prior to Stairway, the band was breifley know as Skyport, with Tom Kolas preceding Spina. All the members were from the Berea area.
Otto Neuber had signed the group to his management right at the start, which got them plenty of exposure at his club Otto Sight and other clubs. Over the next couple years they played most of the Cleveland clubs doing songs by Queen and Led Zeppelin, as well as working on originals. In late 1976 they decided to change their name to Love Affair and work on getting a recording deal. They were helped out by Jim Quinn (of Damnation of Adam Blessing, who by this time was running his own management company). Peter Schekeryk, a long time producer from NYC (and husband of Melanie Safka) saw the band and offered his services to record an LP. After some time to work out material, they went to Miami and recorded the LP, including a song written by Quinn and Coolbaugh, "Mama Sez".
The band was signed to Radio Records, a Florida label distributed by Atlantic, and "Mama Sez" was released as the single. The record, a rockin' raveup, got a lot of airplay on AOR and top 40 stations, nearly missing the national charts. The band spent most of 1980 touring to support the record. The band had invested a lot into a top level stage show, including wireless guitars and mikes. As the momentum from the first LP was dying, Radio was asking for another record, so the band went back to Miami and record their second LP, to be named "Doyawanna". A disagreement between the band and the label caused the band's name to shortened to L.A. Although the band's core knew that L.A. was Love Affair, the outside view looked like they were trying to imply they were Los Angeles. The name issue possibly brough bad energy to the LP, as it was not nearly as successful as the first LP. The band rode it from mid 1981 through 1982.
John Zdravecky wanted to retire from the grind so he was replaced by Jim Golan. During 1983, the band worked on songs for a third LP. Radio Records had decided they didn't want to release it, so the band's managment got a deal with RCA to release a single and 12" (with remixed versions). However, the band decided to change names again, to Unknown Stranger. The record, released on the Dream label, was not a success and the LP was shelved. The Dream label was related to the disco label Salsoul (all distributed by RCA), a bit ironic as the band had been told that the Love Affair moniker sounded "disco" to some people in the business. All this turnoil meant that the band was reaching the end, and after changing the name back to Love Affair for the last few months, they disbanded in late 1984.
Rich Spina has made the band's recordings available again
(including the 3rd previously unreleased LP) on his website
Mama Sez / Can't Get Enough - Radio 421, 1980
(LP) Love Affair - Radio 2004, 1980
The Reaper / Easy Come, Easy Go - Radio 3838, 1981
(LP) Doyawanna - Radio 16035, 1981
Love Strikes / Video World - Dream 0358, 1983
(12") Love Strikes (extended) / Video World - Dream 706, 1983