The last time the Jets landed in Salt Lake City, they played Symphony Hall. This time around, the Jets are headliners at the Jon Huntsman Center, University of Utah.
Which is all indicative of the soaring popularity of the Jets, the biggest pop music band to come out of Utah since . . . well, the Osmonds. (ctually, Salt Lake was just a layover on a flight from Tonga to Minneapolis, where the family singing sensations are now hangared )The Jets have just taken off on their second U.S. tour, this one to support their third album called "Magic," an appropriate title considering the band's remarkable climb to stardom.
The Jets will be in concert Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Jon Huntsman Center. Opening will be Jermaine Stewart and Stacy Q.
Consider: Their first album, titled "The Jets," sold more than a million copies, charted three Top 10 singles, and they were named Best New Group at the Tokyo Music Festival.
Not bad for a band that was doing Polynesian floor shows in Minneapolis restaurants as late as 1984.
"It's a tough life but exciting," said 15-year-old Elizabeth Wolfgramm, who admits the life of a pop star has exceeded her wildest dreams. Elizabeth is one of seven Wolfgramm siblings that comprise the Jets (rother Eugene left the band to pursue a solo career).
It's exciting that their new album is climbing steadily toward the Top 40. It's exciting that the parade of hit singles keeps marching on. It's exciting to be a star recognized by millions of teenagers the world over.
It's a role that Elizabeth and her siblings take very seriously. All are actively involved in the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign, and they use their concert tours to promote a drug-free, alcohol-free society.
"It's something we really believe in," Elizabeth said, "and we want teenagers to see that we really believe in it. They know if they come backstage after one of our shows there will be no drugs there, no alcohol or cigarettes."
The campaign has resulted in hundreds of letters from teenage fans and their parents, praising the Jets on their unequivocal stand on drugs and booze. "We get lots of letters from kids who want to get involved in the (ust Say No) program, and they see us as positive role models," she said.
The band uses its concert stops to let kids know about the program and to invite older teenagers to join up as positive role models for their younger counterparts.
The Jets' story began in Tonga in 1965 when Mike and Vake Wolfgramm and 1-year-old Leroy packed their belongings and headed to Salt Lake City. Ten years later, Leroy was playing in a band and later forming his own three-piece band with his brothers and playing weddings and winning talent shows.
In 1978, the family decided music was a full-time endeavor and formed a family act that performed traditional Polynesian programs. Their act took them to the Midwest and Canada. Booked for a long-term engagement at the Hawaiian International Inn outside Minneapolis, they became stranded when the hotel chain suddenly went bankrupt.
A few years later, the siblings had broken from the Polynesian stage review and started a pop music band called Quasar. It was that name they were appearing under when Don Powell, former manager of Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, first saw them in 1984.
At Powell's suggestion, they changed their names to the Jets, recorded a four-song demo and filmed two videos to highlight their energetic stage performance and choreography. MCA Records took the bait and the Jets were star-bound.
The single "Curiosity" reached No. 8 on the urban charts, "Crush on You" soared to No. 3 on the pop charts, and "You Got It All" also peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts - an incredible string of hits for a debut album.
The "Magic" album, which follows the "Christmas With the Jets" album, is still climbing the charts, and now that the Jets are on tour the album should do even better.
"On this album, we wanted to grow up," Elizabeth said. "We still wanted to appeal to young teenagers but also to those up to about age 25. We needed a wider age range in our audiences."
As a result, there are more ballads and less bubble gum on "Magic," which suits Elizabeth just fine. She's tired of reading news stories that the Jets' music can't be taken seriously.
"We want to be around for a long, long time," she said. "And I think we are moving in that direction."