Guitarist J. Geils, Leader and Namesake of the J. Geils Band, Dead at 71

April 12, 2017 9:28 am
J. Geils of the J. Geils Band Dead at 71
J. Geils performs with the J. Geils Band at the Oakland Auditorium on March 24, 1979 in Oakland, California. (Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)
J. Geils of the J. Geils Band Dead at 71
J. Geils of the J. Geils Band at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago Illinois, April 11, 1980. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)


John Warren Geils, Jr.—the legendary guitarist better known as the leader of the rock band the J. Geils Band—was found dead on April 11 at his home in Groton, Massachusetts.

He was 71.

The band is best known for their 1981 album Freeze Frame, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and produced a pair of high-charting singles. Those include the title track, which rose to No. 4, and “Centerfold,” which has become a barroom jukebox and classic rock radio staple, and went all the way to No. 1.


Despite appearing to have hit mainstream success overnight in the ’80s, the band had actually been toiling long beforehand, scoring Top 40 hits in the ’70s as well, with tracks like the oddly named “Must of Got Lost” (No. 12) and one of the greatest anthems for the broken-hearted, “Love Stinks” (No. 38).

Of the late guitarist, Billboard notes that although the band’s lead singer Peter Wolf got the lion’s share of white-hot spotlight, axeman Geils was the true wizard behind the curtain. “[J. Geils] was a prototypical all-around guitarist, with a facile touch that made him tight as a sealed envelope playing rhythm and electrifying as a soloist,” writes Billboard‘s Gary Graff.

Take a second to listen to his band’s biggest hit, “Centerfold,” below.


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