Following in the footsteps of fellow Australian rock band AC/DC, the swaggering Melbourne quartet Jet have borrowed from the best of classic rock 'n' roll in order to honor to their favorite bands of the past. With hooks and riffs that immediately recall the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Who, with Jet's 2003 album Get Born, the band found itself part of a retro rock trend that included bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes. NME's Paul McNamee called Jet "a wonderful, denim-clad throwback." After the band's single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" was included in a popular iPod commercial, Jet got the jump they needed, and after wide radio play, Get Born sold over 3.5 million copies.
Brothers Chris and Nic Cester grew up listening to their father's old classic rock records in Dingley, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. For five years, Nic drove a forklift truck for a spice factory. In 1996 they formed a band in Melbourne, with Chris on drums, Nic singing lead and playing guitar, childhood friend Cameron Muncey on guitar, and later Mark Wilson on bass. Naming themselves Jet after the Paul McCartney song of the same name from Wings, the quartet fed off the music they had heard growing up. The band got more serious in 2002, when they pressed and quickly sold out of 1,000 copies of an EP titled Dirty Sweet. After selling the original pressings, Jet made 1,000 more when the major labels began taking notice.
With older rock songs back on the radio (thanks groups like the Strokes, the White Stripes and Australia's the Vines), Elektra saw potential in the raw and ragged rock songs of Jet. The U.S. label signed Jet and reissued Dirty Sweet in 2003. The band had no qualms about admitting that they were just four regular guys in a rock band, and perhaps they were just in the right place at the right time. "I'd like to think that people are gravitating toward this kind of music because they want something that is actually heartfelt," Nic told Rolling Stone's Jenny Eliscu.
Jet followed up Dirty Sweet with their full-length debut Get Born. The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles with veteran producer Dave Sardy, known for his work with Marilyn Manson and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Get Born eventually sold over 3.5 million copies, but it took some time to get there. "They are catchy with sing-along choruses, with lots of 'hey's and handclaps and glam stomp beats," wrote All Music Guide's Tim Sendra. "Get Born is a very promising debut by a band that steals from all the right places." Jet got more promotion than they ever could have imagined when they licensed their hip-shaking song "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" for a hugely successful iPod campaign. The commercials were aired so many times that the riffs just stuck in listeners' heads. The single got picked up at many radio stations following the success of the commercial, and the band followed it up with the rowdy songs "Cold Hard Bitch" and "Rollover D.J.," and the very British ballad "Look What You've Done." "The band has a knack for both sweaty knee-shakin' raw rave-ups and remarkably sweet roots-tinged ballads," wrote Now's Sarah Liss.
As Australia's clear choice for best new band in 2004, Jet won six honors at the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards. With messy, shaggy hair, torn jeans and a no-nonsense rock 'n' roll attitude, Jet got a reputation as one of the hardest partying bands around. "We were so excited to be touring and wanted to live every second of it," Mark told Eliscu. "Everyone was always saying, ‘Those jet guys are a big drinking band!’ and we got kind of caught up in our own myth. But we wouldn't be around for very long if we kept that up." Since the release of their first EP, Jet toured worldwide, playing shows with Oasis, the Rolling Stones, and Sloan, three bands they have aimed to emulate.
Jet's partying and endless touring came to an abrupt halt in the spring of 2005, when the Cesters' father passed away. The band returned home after two years of touring to deal with their loss. The group didn't have much time to rest, as Elektra was waiting for the follow-up to Get Born. The band eventually ended up back in Los Angeles with Sardy, to record their second record. They had written a varied collection of songs over the past few years and were venturing into new sonic territory. "For us, [recording] is one of those things where you just go in and do it and it has a life of its own," Chris told MTV.com's Corey Moss. The band had more money and more time for their sophomore record, and chose to use more expensive amps and equipment but still keep their character sound. "It was a way to vent a lot of issues, feelings and anger," Nic confessed to Rolling Stone's Charley Rogulewski. "We ran a whole gamut of emotions over the last few years. You don't bury dad and go out and write the … party classic."
In October of 2006 Jet released Shine On. The title track, inspired by the Cesters' father, was one of many tracks that displayed a lyrical depth not felt on Get Born. With both epic rock songs and orchestra-laced lush tracks, Shine On was a record that showed where Jet had been as well as where they were headed. "It's definitely not Get Born, it's a completely different record," Chris admitted to Moss. "It's in a lot of ways more mature."
For the Record …
Members include Chris Cester , drums, vocals; Nic Cester , vocals, guitar; Cameron Muncey , guitar, vocals; Mark Wilson , bass.
Group formed in Melbourne, Australia, c. 2000; self released EP Dirty Sweet, 2002; signed to Elektra, 2003, re-released Dirty Sweet, 2003; released Get Born, Elektra, 2003; released Shine On, Atlantic, 2006.
Awards: Australian Record Industry Association Award, Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Best Group, Best Breakthrough Artist-Album, Best Breakthrough Artist-Single, Best Rock Album, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Atlantic Records, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10104; 3400 W. Olive Ave. 3rd Flr., Burbank, CA 91505, website: http://www.atlanticrecords.com/jet/. Website—Jet Official Website: http://www.jettheband.com.
Dirty Sweet, self released, 2002; reissued, Elektra, 2003.
Get Born, Elektra, 2003.
Shine On, Atlantic, 2006.
Now (Toronto, Canada), August 7-13, 2003.
Rolling Stone, April 7, 2004.
Atlantic Records Jet Website, http://www.atlanticrecords/com/jet/about (February 15, 2007).
"Jet: Get Born," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (February 15, 2007).
"Jet May Drop Fifth Single from Get Born Before Fleeing To An Island," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/articles/1494083/20041123/jet_rock_.jhtml (February 15, 2007).
"Jet: Shine On," NME,http://www.nme.com/reviews/jet/8037 (February 15, 2007).
"Jet Survive Tragedy, Writer's Block to Rock Again," Rolling Stone,http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10612110/jet_survive_tragedy_writers_block_to_rock_again/ (February 15, 2007).
"Jet's Second Album Slowly Taking Flight," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1510788/20051003/jet_rock_.jhtml (February 15, 2007).
On the heels of his success with Ebony, the African American version of Life, Chicago magazine publisher John H. Johnson was looking to start a new publication in 1951. Magazine trends that year pointed away from the large-format publications such as Life, Look, and Ebony to pocket-sized digests, fast information for busy readers. Johnson envisioned a black version of Quick, a short-lived mainstream news digest, providing a weekly synopsis of important news and events for African Americans. Jet magazine, introduced on November 1, 1951, quickly gained acceptance among blacks for providing understandable, accurate information, and they came to view it as the definitive word on current events, the so-called "Negro's bible." In the process of achieving that fame, Jet was also the first national publication to print the photograph of the corpse of a fourteen-year-old boy lynched for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. That picture alerted African Americans, especially those in the press, to the building civil rights movement in the South a full year before the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott.
Quick, a vest pocket-sized magazine featuring capsulized news that Americans could read "on the bus or in the beauty parlor," was introduced by Gardner Cowles, Jr., the publisher of Look, in 1949. It represented a problem for advertisers because its small size, four by six inches, required special advertising copy, and Cowles discontinued the publication in 1953 due to a lack of advertising. John H. Johnson, the Chicago magazine publisher who had started his business with a $500 loan from his mother in 1942, planned to use the profits of Ebony to support his new pocket-sized publication until advertisers could adjust. The word "jet" was tailor-made for his purposes, meaning dark velvet-black on one level, fast on another. "In the world today, everything is moving along at a faster clip," Johnson wrote in the first issue. "Each week will bring you complete news coverage on happenings among Negroes all over the U.S.—in entertainment, politics, sports, social events as well as features on personalities, places and events." The first issue of Jet sold out and garnered a circulation of 300,000 within six months, making it the largest black news magazine in the world.
Jet was still a new publication during the tempestuous 1950s but lynching was an old problem in the South, dating back to slavery. The U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case had made the South a dangerous place for blacks again, a fact that visiting Northern blacks did not always recognize. When fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, a Chicago boy visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, allegedly whistled at a white woman in August 1955, he was lynched and his corpse mutilated. His mother asked photographers to shoot pictures of his mangled body when it was returned to Chicago for burial. Johnson and his editors agonized over the gruesome photographs but published them in the September 15, 1955, Jet, providing the first national coverage of the murder. The issue sold out, traumatizing African Americans and preparing "the way for the Freedom Movement of the sixties," as Johnson recalled. An interracial team of Jet and Ebony reporters and photographers covered the resulting trial in Mississippi, alerting other Northern journalists to the deteriorating situation in the South. The Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, begun by Rosa Parks and led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, was born a year later, on December 1, 1955.
Jet went on to cover the civil rights movement, along with other business, education, religion, health, medicine, journalism, politics, labor, and crime news of the day. In the 1990s its contents were set: "Census" was a weekly digest of births and deaths. "Ticker Tape" was a Walter Winchell style feature discussing news and news personalities written by Washington D.C. bureau chief Simon Booker. "This Week in Black History" provided a recap of traditional and more recent historical events. "People are Talking About" offered gossip about personalities. "Sports" provided an overview of black athletes and predominantly black teams and "Jet Beauty of the Week" showed a traditional bathing beauty. The magazine also listed the top 20 Black singles and albums along with television highlights and a weekly photo. Jet offers no editorial comment, although the stories and images of African Americans are positive and upbeat, reflecting Johnson's conservative beliefs in free markets and working within the system. Its circulation at the end of the twentieth century was around 900,000.
Dates, Jannette L., and William Barlow. Split Image: African Americans in the Mass Media. Washington, D.C., Howard University Press, 1990, 374.
Johnson, John H., and Lerone Bennett, Jr. Succeeding against the Odds. New York, Warner Books, 1989.
Pride, Armistead S., and Clint C. Walker. A History of the Black Press. Washington, D.C., Howard University Press, 1997.
Walker, Daniel C. Black Journals of the United States. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1982, 213-14.
Wolseley, Roland E. The Black Press, U.S.A. 2nd edition. Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University Press, 1990, 88, 144-46.
The magazine Jet, founded by John H. Johnson in November 1951, is the leading African-American newsweekly. In 2003 its paid subscriptions were over 912,000 and its weekly readership was estimated at 11 million. Among the publications of the Johnson Publishing Company, it ranks second in circulation to Ebony, the popular large-format monthly magazine it was designed to complement.
Jet, whose title carries the connotation both of dark skin color and of speedy airplanes, was meant as a quick, pocket-sized review of black news. Founded on the model of Life magazine's unsuccessful pocket-sized feature magazine Quick, Jet was originally only 5¾ " x 4". Within six issues of its founding, it had a weekly circulation of 300,000. By the 1990s circulation was 900,000 per week, and the magazine had grown to a 7 3/8" x 5¼" format.
By the early 1990s, Jet was distributed throughout the United States and in forty foreign countries, including many African nations. Its appeal stems from its coverage of important issues in the African-American community and from its concise style. Jet 's articles are meant to cover important issues in readable form, for people who neither have the time nor wish to read deeply on current events but want to stay informed. Its reputation for news and commentary on social events was best expressed by a character in a play by writer Maya Angelou, who claimed, "If it didn't happen in Jet, it didn't happen anywhere."
Johnson, John H. and Lerone Bennett. Succeeding Against the Odds. New York: Warner, 1989.
karen bennett harmon (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005
jet1 / jet/ • n. 1. a rapid stream of liquid or gas forced out of a small opening: a high-pressure shower with pulsating jets. ∎ a nozzle or narrow opening for sending out such a stream: Agnes turned up the gas jet. 2. an aircraft powered by one or more jet engines: a private jet | [as adj.] a jet plane. ∎ a jet engine. • v. (jet·ted , jet·ting ) [intr.] 1. travel by jet aircraft: the newlyweds jetted off for a honeymoon in New York. 2. spurt out in jets: blood jetted from his nostrils. jet2 • n. a hard black semiprecious variety of lignite, capable of being carved and highly polished. ∎ a glossy black color: [as adj.] the gloss of her jet hair jet black.
A velvet-black coal that is a variety of lignite. Its occult virtues are thus described by Pliny (Historia naturalis, translated by Philemon Holland, 1601):
"In burning, the perfume thereof chaseth away serpents, and bringeth women again that lie in a trance by the suffocation or rising of the mother; the said smoke discovereth the falling sickness and bewraieth whether a young damsel be a maiden or no; the same being boiled in wine helpeth the tooth-ache, and tempered with wax cureth the swelling glandules named the king's evil. They say that the magicians use this jeat stone much in their sorceries, which they practice by the means of red hot axes, which they call axinomancia, for they affirm that being cast thereupon it will burne and consume, if that ewe desire and wish shall happen accordingly."
Jet was known in Prussia as black amber.
(See also Electrum ; Gagates )
Hence (partly — F. jet) jet sb. †projection; †swagger; stream of water, etc., shot out. XVII.