The JETS story begins in 1980 - a young man with the idea of a band playing good rock n and roll set out to shake up West Australia's live music scene.
That, they did. In 1979 Peter Dean or “Deany “as everyone calls him, left the band he was in as lead vocalist and bass player and began to plan a trip
around Australia in the coaster camper bus he and his girlfriend, Janie (later became his wife) had bought and then come back to Perth and start a band
playing good hard rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC etc.
A hefty tax bill soon put a stop to that idea, so Deany began working for Sounds HQ doing sound for The Gunners, a band from Sydney.Deany and Janie were looking after his parents shop while they were on holidays and one day (in early 1980) Fenton Wilde walked into the shop by chance. Deany had met Fenton before while touring over the east coast and had always admired his guitar playing.
They got talking about the change in music and how Fenton wasn’t enjoying the music of the band he was in at the time. They said their farewells but Deany started thinking why not start the band now instead of waiting until we got back. It was then that Deany decided to grab Fenton, along with drummer, John Spiteri and guitarist Trevor Dinsmore from his last band and have a jam in his lounge room. It felt right.
He also asked Perth’s top sound Engineer at the time,
John Villani (RIP), to help manage and do sound. They went with band booking agency ‘Focus’ to secure gigs in Perth. Deany booked the unnamed band into a
small mining town of Karratha, some 1500 km north of Perth, to rehearse for two weeks. The old camper bus carted a single 4 way sound system which was
‘set and forget’ and Janie “tweaked” the solos.
The band stayed and played at the Walkabout Hotel, rehearsed day and night and played 3 nights a week. The major highways became flooded and the band had to stay another two weeks. This was good as Focus needed a name for the band so they could get some posters printed and book us a gig somewhere. Guitarist, Trevor Dinsmore’s girlfriend at the time, came up with the name JETS. The band members didn’t like it all that much, but it was a name - and none of them could think of anything better. So JETS it was.
June 1980, JETS played their first Perth gig at the Civic Hotel on a Friday night. They had four punters show up plus half a dozen industry people that
Focus had invited. They had no crew and lugged all the gear in and out as they did every night. Soon the band was working 5, sometimes 6 nights a week earning
bugger all. Deany wanted the best sound production and lighting they could get. Most of the money earned went on production. The band played anywhere and
everywhere and soon they could afford road crew.
Ian Cameron (Cammo) was doing lights and he introduced pyrotechnics into the show. Cammo, later went on to further his career to become lighting engineer to the likes of ZZ TOP, METALLICA and many more huge acts, doing world tours. Also at this time, Perth’s top artwork house was Adco Production House.
It was manager
Joe Cipriani and art director Mike Adeane who came up with the ball tearing JETS logo. Adco Productions went on to become Encore Productions which, in 1985 started
the iconic X PRESS MAGAZINE which went on to be Australia’s top music magazines. Joe Cipriani had a huge input into the marketing of JETS. Thanks heaps Joe.
The venues were small and it didn’t take the band long to fill them every week. They had to move to the bigger venues. They were introducing original material into their song list but the crowd just wanted to hear the songs they knew. They started to fill the bigger rooms to capacity as well. You guessed it, time to move on into the famous “Beer Barns” as they were called. These hotels would hold in excess of 1000 plus people, (legally).
After 12 months JETS had become Perth’s top band.They dropped the number of nights they played to 3 or 4, but were still playing to 4000 people a week... every week. This is what went on for years to come.
By April 1982 after only 2 years, Fenton decided to quit the band (bugger) and head to Queensland with his family to start a new life. The band had to find a replacement for him. John Villani suggested well known Perth guitarist Paul Felton. He also suggested Paul Ewing, from Melbourne on Keyboards as they wanted keyboard’s to diversify their song choices.
JETS was now a 5 piece band. The band was playing some very progressive material by now with the added genius keyboard wizardry of Paul Ewing.
Behind the scene was a different story. Things had changed in the lives of guitarist, Trevor Dinsmore and sound engineer, John Villani as they became heavily involved with The Potters House and very religious. Trevor was waiting to be “called” out of the JETS situation, as he was told by his Pastor. After only 8 weeks as a 5 piece band, it all came to a head one packed Saturday night at the Raffles hotel in Perth when Trevor stopped the show and announced his faith on stage. The manager of the Raffles, Rod Kelly, took offence and rang Deany the next morning asking, “What the fuck are you blokes doing preaching in my fuck’n hotel..." ...not happy! Deany asked Trevor and John to leave the band immediately. They did. That was Sunday. The show must go on. Deany rang the rest of the band and told them that they were now a 4 piece and will be playing the following Thursday night. They rehearsed all week - day and night. Deany also took on the total management of the band and enlisted well respected sound engineer “A. J.” to fill John Villani’s shoes.
Later in the year, JETS was on the line up at the Perth Entertainment Centre to a crowd of 3000 people. This is where the band got the taste of the big stages and loved it.
Now back to a 4 piece with only one guitar player, Paul Ewing (on keyboards) had to come up with a style and sound to cover the lack of a second guitar. And did he what! The band’s sound was huge. Paul did have a double 4 way system on stage, with Deany also having a massive 4 x 10 “ and 2 x 18” speakers system and Johnny with a 4580 and a 60 degree horn for his drum fill. It was getting ridiculous. Paul Felton on guitar, with 3 x Marshall 100 watt heads and 3 x 4 x 12 cabs and being the only guitarist on stage - he had a ball. He was roaring and soaring. The band began to tour longer and more often. It all took its toll.
Deany decided to wind up the band. It was promoted as “Stop at the Top”.
So after nine gigs in a row, covering more than nearly 2500 KM, on Monday night the 11th April 1983 at the Overflow, JETS performed their last show for a crowd of nine hundred loyal fans. After three years at the TOP of the WA music industry with their brand of honest, gutsy rock'n'roll there was no way the people of Perth would let JETS fade away.
In later 1985, Deany realized there was still a demand for the band, so he rallied the troops. Paul Felton was available, so was Johnny "Ounga" Spiteri on drums, but Paul Ewing had joined a full time band and could not do the reunion tour. A quick phone call to Fenton Wilde in Queensland and the lineup was complete. This was only a 2 week tour of ten dates. The shows sold out everywhere. Huge success. The demand for the band could not be ignored.
Deany wanted to put the band back on the road again full time. Fenton was not able to join full time so Deany asked Steven Ross Garde if he wanted the gig. Deany had worked with Gardy before and knew him as a very respected and talented musician. He can play anything. Every instrument known to mankind. The new line up was set. So after a few months the line up was ready to tour. This is where Deany recruited Peter "Cozzie" Cosgrove for their sound engineer’s position (where he remains to this day) and "Lethal" Lee Gamble on lights. This was to be the line-up for many years to come. Even bigger and better than before.
JETS headed north again for a few weeks to tighten up the show. When the band hit the Perth pubs again, the top bands at the time had the rugs pulled out from under them. Deany asked Des Jose of the Rock Exchange to book the band. Des was the best booker in Perth. He had it all. Deany’s strategy of filling the medium venues to the max and then moving on into the bigger venues worked again. JETS was now full housing everywhere.
Deany now set about setting up the band long term. They paid tax. Lots of it. They paid the road crew’s tax. Deany was the first to organize workers compensation for the road crew.
As the band had become bigger they needed a larger sound and light show - And more road crew to set it up. They ended up with an eight man road crew and a 40 foot semi-trailer to cart all the gear around Australia. JETS is now a household name.
Why has this band triumphed when so many have disappeared without a trace? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that JETS are a vigorous, energetic rock band. There's no hype, no pretence. Just honest, gut-crunching rock'n'roll.
JETS Deany (bass), Johnny Ounga (drums), Paul Felton and Steve Garde (guitars) are all dynamic performers. All are accomplished vocalists and musicians. The combined talents of this four piece band results in the relentless powerhouse that is the living legend - JETS.
The Jet's collective talents are one side of the story. Their production is the other. JETS are renowned for having one of the biggest full-time shows on the road, in Australia. Their eight-man road crew truck around and piece together a 200 can light show and 10,000 watt concert system at every show. The band and production combined are set to blow every audience away, every time.
Late in 1986, JETS released the first fruits of their studio work: the album, "JETS - ROCK CLASSICS". The success of this recording took the band and critics by surprise. It shot onto WA's mainstream charts and seized the number one position on the Independent Charts where it remained in the top ten for six months - and continued to chart for the following few years after its initial release.
The album was also released in France, Italy, Germany, Holland and UK where it had been favourably received.
Also that year, Deany got a call from a bloke called Eddy Withnell from the CCMC, to play at a big party on a block of land just out of Perth near the town of Bindoon. This was the start of something big. At the time nobody could have imagined just how big this would become, except maybe Eddy and the boys, that the hugely successful BINDOON ROCK was born. 2 Days of Freedom, as it was promoted. JETS headlined the first concert and had a crowd of about 4000. As Bindoon Rock became more popular the crowds grew to well over 20,000 for the 10 years it existed. JETS played 8 of the 10 years. JETS always followed the main act to keep the crowd raging. JETS were more than just a band for BINDOON ROCK.
Jets production crew, led by Cozzie and Lee Gamble, organised all the sound and lighting requirements on behalf of CC PROMOTIONS for BINDOON ROCK. Deany had a band booking agency called Peter Dean Management, who booked all the acts for Bindoon except the later headliners which CC PRROMOTIONS booked direct. It was a good, long and lasting relationship with CCMC.
JETS also played The Sandhurst Run at Carnarvon, some 900km north of Perth. This show attracted mainly bikers from the north of the state and Perth as a winter run. JETS headlined every Sandhurst show.
In 1987, JETS first toured to Darwin to play at the Hidden Valley Drags and also Darwin River Rock for a couple of years to come. The band would play BindoonRock in summer and in winter would travel north to play Sandhurst and then on to Broome for the Shinju Matsuri Festival - Plus just about every town in WA.
Towards the end of 1987 JETS embarked on one of the most arduous, extensive shows of WA and Northern Territory ever undertaken by an Australian band. Taking their full production In their packed semi-trailer, JETS travelled right throughout both states from Esperance, in the south to Kununurra in the north, and on through the Northern Territory down to Alice Springs. The reaction, of course, was tremendous. The mission was at that time to expand their touring horizons to travel through Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
By 1988 JETS had performed at the third annual Bindoon Rock Festival, which saw them performing before an estimated crowd of 20,000 people. Onceagain,JETS prove that they are amongst the top of Australian Entertainment. Jet's continued to be a regular fixture at the Bindoon rock shows until the festival's final chapter in 1995.
1988 - 1991 Saw the band travel East to South Australia and on to Melbourne. Then onto the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Toowoomba. JETS blew them away. With a huge TV and press advertising campaign, sell-out shows were the norm. These were long exhausting tours year after year. It took its toll. Travelling, playing, and being together almost all of the time, a rift began between the guitarist, Felton and Gardy. Something had to be done. It couldn't go on like this.
So in 1991 Deany made the decision to step down both the guitarist’s and replace them. Enter brothers Lino and Cam Del Roio from the band THE BOYS. These guys were really tight players. The band rocked. This line up toured WA, played Sandhust 91, Bindoon Rock in 92, played shows with Ian Gillan (lead singer of Deep Purple) and his band, and many Perth pub shows.
1992 after being on the road for 7 years full time, JETS now would only play major gigs and the odd tour and of course the occasional reunion gig at the beloved Raffles Hotel, A Western Australian Icon. Guitarists Gardy and Felton are back in the band and all is good between them.
1995 saw the last Bindoon Rock. JETS headlined with the legendary Billy Thorpe (RIP)
During the many years of reunions, on the odd occasion when Gardy was unavailable, Fenton would fill his shoes. Rod Coxell also had a spell on guitar.
2010 Tragedy struck. The devastating news that Paul Felton was diagnosed with cancer. Paul was going to die. Deany rang him and asked if there is anything we can do for him. Felt’s being Felt’s said “How about a JETS gig.” So began the task of organising the gig. As Paul was very weak, his wife Peta set the date to co inside with his medication that he would be at his strongest time to play. Paul and Deany organised Fenton to be back up guitarist if Paul couldn’t play all night. The date was set, Saturday 24th July at the only rock venue left in town at the Charles Hotel in Perth. Two weeks before the show, Paul Felton passed away. Peta Felton is a specialist nurse and she took care of Paul at their home during his illness right up to five days before his passing. The show was promoted as A REASON TO ROCK. It sold out. The Western Australian music industry rallied together and donated everything for the show. Everybody donated their services. It was tremendous effort and all funds raised went towards Pauls family and the Cancer Council Of WA. Paul Felton. Legendary guitarist... Sadly missed by all. RIP Paul. JETS would not play a show for over six years since Paul’s death.
Early in 2016 John ‘Ounga ‘ Spiteri, the drummer since day one retired from the band. John will be remembered as a good mate, reliable, honest hard working drummer who sang “American Pie” 4 million times. As stated in the Guinness Book of Records. Thanks John, you will be sadly missed.
2016 Saturday 8th October JETS played one night at the Charles Hotel. This show sold out in 3 days in June. They recruited Michael Burn to fill John's shoes on drums. With over thirty years experience in the live music and recording industry, Michael is a well established and highly respected drummer in the Australian music scene.
He is a creative drummer with a powerful groove. His ability to adapt to different styles and genres has seen him perform, record and tour with many Australian artists including legendary rhythm and blues outfit Matt Taylor’s Chain, iconic rock vocalist Doc Neeson.
Michael has also performed with many vocalists and musicians from some of the country’s finest bands including Boom Crash Opera, The Models, Rose Tattoo and Moving Pictures.
2017 Saturday 1st April, Jets take the stage again for a one show only outdoor concert at The Ravenswood Hotel. Danny Achurch is recruited into the band on guitar for this show, as recommend by Fenton who was unavailable. Danny made such an impression on the rest of the guys he was asked to join the line up. Danny is a well known session player who has played with the likes of many top Aussie artist such as Jimmy Barnes, Mark Gable (Choirboys) Doc Neeson ( Angels ) etc. etc. Awesome guitarist.
Early August 2017 starts with a shock announcement . Guitarist Steve Garde decides he has had enough and quits the band... So the search is on to find the right replacement. Enter Phil Bradly. Deany's known Phil for many years and has fitted in the band like a glove. He is the ultimate rock guitarist. With Danny and Phil's tight playing and awesome guitar sounds , the band is Rebuilt. Jets played at the Ravenswood Outdoor concert by the river on Saturday 24th March 2018.
2019 Sees another change in the lineup. An opportunity arises to recruit the legendary rock guitarist Pete Robinson. Pete still plays with Melbourne’s ultimate rock band, Electric Mary plus Australian Icon, Russel Morris. As Jets only plays a few special shows a year, he can come and play with Jets while maintaining his position with the other bands. With Pete Robinson in the band, this lineup is taking Jets to the next level.
As one rock scribe enthused in the late 80's and early 90's, "There's a feeling that JETS will never die - Let there be rock, and let there be JETS!" Today, the legions of followers remain loyal to JETS - Western Australia's Most Powerful & Dynamic Rock n Roll Band. What more could possibly be said? JETS.