What’s the first thing I think of when I hear the name “The Jets”? Not the NY football team or the gang in “West Side Story”, but the family of Tongan-American siblings from Minnesota that had a string of hits in the mid-late Eighties, most notably the funky, sassy “Rocket 2 U”.
This Grammy-nominated hit (#5 R&B, #6 pop) for the group was a bit of a departure from their peppy first run of hits. First, it was sung by a guy-brother Leroy took the lead from sisters Elizabeth and Moana, who’d previously helmed the mic for the band’s hits. Second, it eschewed upbeat, innocent dance pop for a grittier, funkier sound, courtesy of songwriter and producer Bobby Nunn (who scored a minor hit for Motown in the early Eighties called “She’s Just a Groupie”. Third, this song was not so much puppy love (like, say, their hit “Crush on You”). I actually remember being pretty shocked to find out that this song was by The Jets when I first heard it.
You gotta give these folks props for being the first (only?) Polynesian-American family (and certainly the only Polynesian-American Mormon family act) to make waves on the pop radio scene. These kids were constantly getting play in the teen magazines of the day alongside the likes of labelmates New Edition. And unlike N.E., The Jets played their own instruments…or did they? It’s amazing what you’ll believe when you’re a kid. Take a look at the “Crush on You” video and you’ll see guitars and basses being played when there ain’t one damn non-synthesized instrument anywhere on that song!!
The band at this particular time included 7 of the fifteen (!!) Wolfgramm children (not including two adopted kids, according to Wikipedia). Back in those days, 15 kids got you a singing group. These days, 15 kids gets you a reality show. “Rocket 2 U” came towards the end of their run of hits, which petered out by the early Nineties. Various incarnations of the group are still performing, however, and you can bet that whenever they perform, “Rocket 2 U” is part of their repertoire.
I wonder who makes the drain emptying sound now?
Incoming search terms:
- elizabeth wolfgramm