The Jets Lost Millions & Explain Being “Humiliated” Working In Casinos

Posted On : April 13, 2015

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Remember The Jets? They were the 8 siblings who had us jammin’ to their hits “You got It All, “Crush On You,” and many more back in the mid 80’s. Then all of sudden we never heard from the Polynesian family with the R&B sound again.

So what happened? Well based on what they explained in an interview with Classic Bands, a LOT happened -from being robbed of millions of dollars, stricken with cancer, and family turmoil. They said they faced some extremely tough times after their fame subsided. Read what they said about all of this…


How they’re careers got started:

Jets:”We had a local agent that had heard he [Don Powell, the guy who ultimately ended up becoming their manager] had retired. [Don] used to work for Motown Records. He decided he would go back into the business. He ended up getting back with some of his old friends in the business and helped produce the group and arrange for some demos and ended up shopping us and, because of the music people in Minneapolis, they ended up seeing The Jets.

We were signed I believe to his production deal. He had a company called Twin Town Sounds and he signed us to that. Then the record company signed that production company. I’m learning all this now that I’m older, but when you’re eleven, you have no idea what’s going on.

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The Jets (via Facebook)On their management mismanaging their money and causing them to work at casinos:

Jets: “We worked hundreds of shows every year. It was later on that you realized the good and bad that came from it. I think it becomes a crazy web. All these people. All these sponsors. Record company people. Promoters. Everyone working for the management. For awhile, believe me, we were all really bitter. We were all really hurt by it because we were young. By the time our career was over, I [Moana] just turned seventeen. We had like a six year stint in the business. I’m seventeen and I’m like done. We were all in our late teens, early twenties. We had to go work in clubs and bars again. It was really humiliating for us to go back into casinos and get paid peanuts. We didn’t know anybody in the business. It was like they moved on. ‘The Jets? That’s old news. We’ve got New Kids On The Block. We don’t need this little group.'”

“So, we were pretty much kicked to the curb. We started doing a few USO tours and then it started to hit us as a family. We fought a lot. We struggled on the road. None of us had a real education. It was like we all had G.E.D.s, education equivalent. None of us had gone to college. So, we really got tripped up and we didn’t know anybody in the business and then we were back in Minneapolis, just working the clubs. It was very humiliating for a long time. We were bitter at our manager and just how everything went down. We all kind of walked away from the business. A few of my siblings got married and just thought, “You know what? I’ll start my family. We had an opportunity. We were blessed by it. We got to travel the world and see places many people didn’t get to see, but now we gotta move on and get back to reality.” It was embarrassing to go back to our people thinking that we’re these big, rich, famous people and we’re trying to get work. That part really sucked. For a long time I didn’t speak to my family. We just kind of went our way. I got married and lived in Hawaii for ten years. We never were estranged from our family and our parents, but this business really did a number and we all walked away.”

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They Rely On Their Religious Fate

Jets- “Luckily, we all are still very religious in our beliefs and we believe in our family and we all have children now. That alone I think kind of kept us together. It was just kind of like it’s not worth it. Among all of us children, my parents have fifty-three grandchildren. It just wasn’t worth it for us to be bitter for that long. We finally saw [our former] manager a few years ago and just thought, ‘You can’t be that angry that long.’ He had a lot of health issues and I think he lost a lot of money. He used a lot our money to try and fund other music projects, but they never panned out.”

The Jets On How Much Money They Were Robbed Of

“In the ’80s, what I can remember, just for the four years, and it….doesn’t seem like a lot now, but back then I think we made between four and eight million dollars. Eight million dollars is what we had made in our four year success for The Jets.

How they cope:

“You learn a lot of life lessons. You can either be bitter or you can move on and say, “Let’s get smart. We’ve learned never to do this again.” I look at the business today, and it’s really a business. People say, “What happened? Where did The Jets go?” I say “We still do music, but we don’t always necessarily do the business part of it.” So, we’re still involved with our music. We still love it. I hated music for a long time because it left a bitter taste after all the hard work we did. My husband is a musician too. He told me, “You really can’t be angry. You got a gift and you can always use that gift. You can learn from your mistakes. Maybe they were out of your hands, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s life. You gotta move forward. If not, you’ll stay bitter and use that to be unhappy. You just can’t do that anymore.” Luckily, we’re still a family. We got together and we struggle together. We just put out a new record. We’ve survived as a family and I think that’s what matters to us most. A lot of musical families don’t make it. They either end up not talking to each other or they keep their distance. We’re still very involved in each other’s lives. We’re a lot more cautious, but we’re a lot more family oriented. The business almost broke our family apart.

They’re Lengthy Healing Process

The Jets: “It took a long time for my parents to convince our manager we needed a house. […] “I don’t think my parents stayed on top of it [the money earnings]. I wish they would have. I think they were…trusting him [the group’s manager] that they didn’t ask any questions. It was when the money ran out… It took a long time for my parents to convince our manager we needed a house. We’d been working so hard, we’d been renting. We’d like to buy a house. We finally bought a home for the family. Not even a few years after that, people kept thinking; ‘You guys are making so much money. You’re working all the time. You’re on tour.’ And we weren’t really seeing anything. We were still a family of seventeen. The Jets make up the eight oldest of a family of seventeen children. We weren’t living in these big cribs and had all these cars. We had two, 15-passenger vans, a bigger home that we could finally call our home. It wasn’t anything extravagant considering what we were making at the time. But the questions weren’t asked until it was too late.”

The Jets- “By the time the third album came out, our manager was already having issues with the record company and the record company didn’t want to deal with him. The Jets ended up getting screwed in the middle because we didn’t know anybody. I learned now that relationships mean everything. We never knew anybody in the business. We would go in and say ‘hi’ to record company people, but we didn’t have real solid relationships. Everything he did, he had his contacts. A sad tale, but luckily we’re still a family. We’ve actually made amends since then. We’ve seen him. We had a 25th Anniversary Show in Minneapolis and we invited him to it. It was a nice reunion to see him again. We let bygones be bygones and just moved on.”

Their Sister Battled Breast Cancer

The Jets also said that one of the members, Elizabeth, was stricken with breast cancer in her 20’s but she survived:

“Liz, when she was diagnosed with [breast] cancer, just walked away from the music. We were like 20 — when kids are almost finishing college — and we were like burnt-out, has-been music artists.

[classicbands.com]

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Where The Jets Are Now

Now The Jets are back at it and their bangin’ out a bunch of music because they said that music will always remain in their blood. They have 8 different personalities to manage, and that can be tumultuous on any group. The more people, the higher the chances of internal chaos, but the best thing about this group is that their foundation was built off of pure love and that seems to be the thing that keeps these siblings migrating back to each other.

Here’s a recent interview of the two lead singers of the Jets, Moana and Elizabeth…

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