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Jet Biography

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Jet In-depth Biography

From the outset, Jet} was regarded as the first supergroup of glam}. Bassist Martin Gordon} and pianist Peter Oxendale} were former members of Sparks}, their time with the band incorporating the recording of the seminal Kimono My House} album and attendant "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"} hit single. Vocalist Andy Ellison} and drummer Chris Townson} were ex-bandmates of Marc Bolan} in the 1960s band John's Children} -- Townson} had also played with the Jook}. And guitarist Davy O'List} was little short of a living legend, following stints with the Attack}, the Nice}, and the formative Roxy Music}. Producer Roy Thomas Baker}, meanwhile, was highly regarded for his work with Queen}; Jet}'s clothes were crafted by Elton John}'s tailor; they shared their management, the RAM} agency, with Gary Glitter}. In terms of dream teams, they were unbeatable. The fact that Gordon} was also a songwriter of intense originality, gifting Jet} with a repertoire that was equal parts humorous, quirky, and memorable, was surely simply icing on the cake.

Gordon} formed Jet} immediately following his departure from Sparks} in spring 1974; apparently, he and the Mael brothers fell out over Ron Mael}'s domination of the songwriting duties, with only one of Gordon}'s songs, "Cover Girl,"} ever even coming close to breaking into their repertoire -- it at least made it into the rehearsal room. Still it was a battle that Gordon} could never hope to win and he was sacked just days before the group was scheduled to appear on television to promote "This Town."} Sparks} manager John Hewlett} promptly drafted in Trevor White} and Ian Hampton} of the Jook} to replace Gordon}; the bassist himself immediately teamed with Jook} drummer Townson}; he, in turn, introduced Ellison}.

With Oxendale} having departed Sparks} at the same time as Gordon} (he was originally hired to provide backup keyboards on-stage) and O'List} recruited after the band heard his contributions to Bryan Ferry}'s latest single, the hard-riffing "The In Crowd,"} things moved quickly. Management and a record deal with CBS} were in place by late 1974 and, following a handful of low-key club shows in the new year, Jet} was finally unveiled in March 1975 as the opening act on labelmate Ian Hunter}'s first U.K. tour. Their first single, O'List}'s "My River,"} appeared simultaneously, followed in May by the Jet} debut album and a second 45, "Nothing to Do with Us."} Unfortunately, neither critics nor audiences were impressed -- so loudly had the bandmembers' backgrounds been trumpeted by their label that the group's own originality was completely overlooked. People were simply disappointed not to find a mélange of Roxy}, Sparks}, and John's Children}. Further damage was done when Townson} broke his leg playing soccer; he was replaced on tour by Jim Toomey}, ex-Colin Blunstone}'s band (and subsequently, a member of the Tourists}). The band also gained further unwanted attention and notoriety when it was pointed out that the album's sleeve design (by Roslav Szaybo}) bared a strong resemblance to Marvel Comics}' Mr. Miracle} strip -- New Musical Express} journalist Charles Shaar Murray} was even able to include the actual issue and page number in his review of the album.

Amid the chaos and hostility, Jet} collapsed. O'List} quit first; he was replaced by Ian MacLeod}, an unknown who had, in fact, been in the running for the guitar slot in the first place. Oxendale} also departed, but with Townson} now recovered and back on board, Jet} was dispatched to a secluded countryside studio to work up material for their sophomore album. Rehearsals and demoing were still under way when they learned that both CBS} and RAM} had dropped them. Material from this period would later appear on disc two of Jet}'s Nothing to Do with Us: A Golden Treasury} anthology. Ellison}, Gordon}, MacLeod}, and Townson} now recruited former Jook}/Sparks} guitarist Trevor White} to the band -- Gordon} and Townson} alone also joined White} on his 1976 "Crazy Kids"} solo single. White} also assumed production duties for a set of Jet} demos requested by Island Records}; the group recorded four songs: "Antlers,"} "Don't Cry Joe,"} "Dirty Pictures,"} and "Sail Away."} Island} rejected all four, at which point Townson} quit the music business altogether. His bandmates were equally dispirited, but made the rounds of the record labels regardless, finally striking gold with the independent Chiswick Records}. Pausing only while the band changed their name to Radio Stars}, Chiswick} released "Dirty Pictures"} as a single in spring 1977. Weeks later, it was soaring up the U.K. indie chart and two years of wretched underachievement were finally at an end. ~ Dave Thompson, All Music Guide

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