New York, NY (Top40 Charts) John Geils, the guitarist and namesake of the J. Geils Band, has died. He was 71.
Boston's WCVB says that he was found dead in his home in Groton, Mass., where he had lived for 35 years. As of now, the cause of death is unknown. The station's Kathy Curran tweeted that police responded to a call to check on his well being. They do not suspect foul play.
John Warren Geils Jr. (February 20, 1946 - April 11, 2017) known professionally as J. Geils, was an American guitarist who was a member of the rock group The J. Geils Band.
Geils was born in New York City and grew up in Far Hills, New Jersey. His father was an engineer at Bell Labs and a jazz fan. From an early age, he heard his father's albums by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and was escorted by his father to a Louis Armstrong concert. He worked out Miles Davis music on trumpet and drums, and he listened to blues guitarists Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters on the radio.
In 1964, he went to Northeastern University and was a trumpeter in the marching band. When he was drawn to folk musicians in Boston, he left Northeastern for Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he studied mechanical engineering. At Worcester, he formed J. Geils Blues Band with Danny Klein, Magic Dick Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, and Peter Wolf, with Seth Justman becoming the last member before the band released its debut album in 1970.
The J. Geils Band was influenced by soul music and rhythm and blues, but it moved toward pop and rock by the time the album Love Stinks (EMI, 1980) came out. Their next album, Freeze Frame, produced the song "Centerfold", which sat at number one for six weeks. Tension and conflict arose among band members, and Peter Wolf left to pursue a solo career. The band broke up in 1985.
Geils put down the guitar to concentrate on auto racing and restoration. He returned to music in 1992 when he produced an album for Danny Klein and formed the band Bluestime with Magic Dick. He played in the New Guitar Summit with Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin and in the acoustic trio Kings of Strings with Beaudoin and Jerry Miller. In 2005, he released his first solo album, jazz album.
In 2015, Geils was named to the Wall of Honor at his alma mater, Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
In addition to passing on an interest in jazz, Geils's father took his son to auto races in Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Geils fell in love with Italian sports cars. He drove in five races a year during the early 1980s, at the peak of the J. Geils Band's popularity (Freeze Frame was a number one album).
He opened KTR Motorsports, an automobile restoration shop in Carlisle, Massachusetts, to service and repair vintage sports cars such as Ferrari and Maserati. He sold the shop in 1996, though he continued to use the shop and participate in the company.
Since 1982, Geils has resided in Groton, Massachusetts. The town honored him by proclaiming J. Geils Day on December 1, 2009.
Geils was found dead in his Groton, Massachusetts, home on April 11, 2017. He was 71 years old.
The J. Geils Band (1970)
The Morning After (1971)
"Live" Full House (1972)
Ladies Invited (1973)
Nightmares...and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle (1974)
Blow Your Face Out (1976)
Monkey Island (1977)
Love Stinks (1980)
Freeze Frame (1981)
You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd (1984)
Bluestime (Rounder, 1994) Little Car Blues (Rounder, 1996)
New Guitar Summit (2004)
New Guitar Summit: Live at the Stoneham Theatre (2004)
Jay Geils Plays Jazz! (Stony Plain, 2005)
Jay Geils, Gerry Beaudoin and the Kings of Strings, featuring Aaron Weinstein (Arbors, 2006)
Toe Tappin' Jazz (North Star, 2009)
House Party: Live in Germany (2015)