The guitarist and namesake founder of the J. Geils Band has died. John Warren Geils Junior was found dead Tuesday in his Groton, Massachusetts home. He was 71. The cause of death has been called natural causes.
The hard-driving R&B band band, which featured vocalist Peter Wolf, built its reputation around Boston and began making records in 1970. But a change to pop and soul brought the sextet chart success with the reggae-flavored “Give It to Me” and “Must of Got Lost.” The band’s big year was 1982, when Freeze Frame spun off a pair of smashes in the title track (which went Top 5) and “Centerfold,” which spent six weeks at number-one.
Wolf left the band to go solo, and Geils reformed it on several occasions, though he stopped performing 2012. In recent years, the band named for him performed without him, which led to litigation. He also led the band Bluestime with Geils Band harp player Magic Dick and released three jazz albums under his own name.
The J. Geils band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time in October, but was not selected for the 2017 class.
”Being part of the J. Geils Band was a lot of fun. We made 14 records, and eventually made some money. But it got to be a grind. In some respects it was like any other job; it starts to wear on you a little bit,” Geils told The Boston Globe in 2004.
Here are a few early reactions from the music community, led by that of J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf:
“Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P. Jay Geils”
Foghat drummer Roger Earl: “We just heard that J. Geils has passed away. Sad. We did so many shows with them
back in the 70’s and they were one of the best bands we ever toured with. Great, great music. Our thoughts
are with his family at this time.”
E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren: “Sad to lose J. Geils. Me n Grin learned so much opening for
@TheJ_GeilsBand. J and band were always kind. RIP John.”
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello: “RIP J. Geils. A great rocker in a great rockin band.”
Whitesnake singer David Coverdale: “Thoughts & Prayers To The Family, Friends & Fans Of J. Geils…RIP.”