The J. Geils Band / / is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts, under the leadership of guitarist J. Geils.
The band played R&B-influenced blues rock in the 1970s before moving towards a more new wave sound in the 1980s. Since its initial break-up in 1985, the band has reunited several times.
Their biggest hit was their 1981 single, "Centerfold", which charted No. 1 in the United States in early 1982.
The band started as an acoustic blues trio in the mid 1960s, with vocalist and guitarist John Geils, bassist Danny Klein (Dr. Funk) and harmonica player Richard Salwitz (stage name Magic Dick).
The band formed under the name 'Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels', while Geils was attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a couple of semesters. In 1967, the band switched focus, starting to play electric guitar and bass and recruiting drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and fast-talking ex-disc jockey singer Peter Wolf, born Peter Blankenfeld, (originally from the Bronx ) and later, both from Boston. They became the J. Geils Blues Band, later dropping the word "Blues" from the band name. The following year, former fan Seth Justman joined as an organist. The group signed to Atlantic Records in 1970.
Although living in Boston, the band had always considered Detroit their second home because of their enormous popularity there. Two of their three live albums were recorded in Detroit at The Cinderella Ballroom and Pine Knob Music Theater (now DTE Energy Music Theater). Their second live album, 1976's Blow Your Face Out, was recorded in Boston (at Boston Garden) and Detroit (at Cobo Arena).
The J. Geils Band first received FM radio airplay with the live single cover version of The Contours' "First I Look at the Purse". They then began to get AM radio airplay as well with a series of several hit singles in the 1970s, the most successful of which were a cover version of The Valentinos' "Looking for a Love" (1971), a cover version of The Showstoppers' "Ain't Nothin' But a Houseparty" (1973), "Give it to Me" (1973), and "Must Of Got Lost" (1974). Later in the 1970s, the band signed with EMI America Records.
The band attracted special attention for its innovative use of the harmonica as a lead instrument. Harmonicalinks.com later called Magic Dick "a pioneer in sound and style for rock harmonica".
On August 17, 1971, at a show in the Boston Common, The Allman Brothers Band named The J. Geils Band as their favorite local band. Both bands later played the last show at the Fillmore East. After their initial commercial successes the group seemed destined to be nothing more than a party band, until the release of Monkey Island (1977), followed by Sanctuary (1978), which charted at No. 49 on the Billboard 200 and spun off a sizable hit single in "One Last Kiss" (No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100).
The group's commercial fortunes improved even more in the early 1980s, first with the humorous Love Stinks, then with their success with the Freeze Frame album which included "Centerfold" (No. 1 for six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100) and then the title cut (No. 4). "Centerfold" also became their only major hit single in the United Kingdom, where it reached No. 3 in February 1982. Another Live album, Showtime (1982), contained their hit cover of "I Do" (No. 24), a 1965 hit by The Marvelows. But Wolf left the group in 1983 over artistic disagreements.
The band went on to record one more album of new material, You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd, after Wolf left. He was not replaced, and Seth Justman took over most of the vocal duties. The album produced only one single — "Concealed Weapons", and was not a commercial success. The group then disbanded in 1985 after contributing the title song to the 1985 horror film Fright Night.
The group reunited with Wolf in 1999 for a 13 date tour of the East Coast and upper Mid-west. Rollins Band drummer Sim Cain sat in for Stephen Jo Bladd for this tour, which also saw the band supported by backup singers Andricka Hall and Catherine Russell, as well as the Uptown Horns (who'd also appeared with the group on their Freeze Frame Tour). After the '99 reunion tour finished at that year's end, Wolf returned to touring with his own backup band with the rest of the Geils band making occasional appearances.
On February 26, 2005, the band (with drummer Marty Richards filling in for Bladd) reunited at Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a charity show for the Cam Neely Foundation for cancer care.
On May 22, 2006 all six original members had a surprise reunion at bassist Danny Klein's 60th birthday party at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.
On February 19, 2009 the band reunited once again to perform the opening concert at the new House of Blues in Boston, Massachusetts on Lansdowne St. in Boston (formerly the location of Avalon, Axis, The Embassy, and The Modern), with Marty Richards once again filling in for Bladd and Mitch Chakour supplying backup vocals. Subsequently, they played two shows on April 24 and 25 at Detroit's Fillmore Theater (formerly State Theater). They also did a second show on Lansdowne St. April 28.
On July 11, 2009 the J. Geils Band played at the Borgata Hotel/Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, selling out the Borgata's 2,000-seat Event Center.
On December 31, 2009 the original members (with Marty Richards again subbing for Stephen Jo Bladd) reunited for a one-night-only live gig at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT.
The band played a benefit in Boston for Big Brothers/Big Sisters on January 23, 2010, which Peter Wolf called the "last" Geils show. "You never say never," Wolf noted, "But I can tell you in my heart of hearts that as far as I know -- and I'm a pretty good source -- there is nothing I can think of that's planned. So this is basically it right now."
On August 14, 2010 The J. Geils Band reunited once again to open up for Aerosmith at a sold out show at Fenway Park.
For their 2010 dates, the band was again supported by the Uptown Horns along with backup singers Mitch Chakour, Andricka Hall and Nichelle Tillman. Hall and Tillman continued on in the band for their 2011 and 2012 tours, as did the Uptown Horns. Since this time, Peter Wolf and J. Geils have also both been touring as solo artists. Danny Klein has formed a new band called "Danny Klein's Full House" that is dedicated to playing the music of The J. Geils Band.
The J. Geils Band embarked on a short U.S. tour in August/September 2012. However, guitarist J. Geils was not a part of this tour. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, John Geils, founder of the J. Geils Band, has filed a lawsuit against the other members of the group over use of the name in an upcoming tour that doesn't feature the guitarist, Reuters reports. Geils names band members Richard Salwitz, Danny Klein, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman in the lawsuit filed in Boston Superior Court, claiming they "planned and conspired" to exclude Geils from a tour and are unlawfully using the group's trademarked name. On their 2012 tour, guitarists Duke Levine and Kevin Barry replaced Geils and the new drummer was Tom Arey.
On May 30, 2013 the J. Geils Band performed 6 songs as part of the Boston Strong concert at the TD Garden in Boston. The concert, a benefit for victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombing victims, also featured Aerosmith, James Taylor, Boston, Dropkick Murphys, New Kids on the Block, Bell Biv DeVoe, Boyz II Men, Jimmy Buffett, Carole King, Extreme, and Jason Aldean.
In 2013 the band played for an hour as the kicker-band for Bon Jovi in multiple locations across the US.
Since the semi-retirement of the band, Geils has been restoring sports cars in Massachusetts and started the performance shop KTR European Motorsports in Ayer, Massachusetts. In 1992, he joined his old bandmate Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz to form the band Bluestime, which released two records: the self-titled Bluestime (1994) and Little Car Blues (1996) on Rounder Records. It is believed the band is currently on hiatus.
In 2004, Geils produced the album Nail It! for Massachusetts-based blues/rock group The Installers (Francesca Records No. 1011). He has also been known to appear on stage with The Installers occasionally.
Magic Dick recently contributed his harmonica playing and some vocals as part of a live recording called Command Performance by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue featuring The Tommy Castro Band, Deanna Bogart, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and others. Since 2007, he has toured as part of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue on different Blues Cruises, and again on land-based shows. Peter Wolf toured with Kid Rock during the first half of 2008.
The December 2009 edition of Vintage Guitar (magazine) featured an in-depth interview with J. Geils by Mambo Sons guitarist Tom Guerra. In the interview, Geils revealed his playing approach, jazz influences and choice of instruments.
In September 2010 it was announced that The J. Geils Band was a finalist nominee for selection to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class Of 2011, but were not selected for induction that year.
- Current members
- Magic Dick - harmonica, trumpet, harmonium (1967–1985, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009–Present)
- Danny Klein - bass (1967–1985, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009–Present)
- Seth Justman - keyboard, vocals (1968–1985, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009–Present)
- Peter Wolf - vocals (1967–1983, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009–Present)
- Former members
- J. Geils - guitar (1967–1985, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009–2012)
- Stephen Bladd - percussion, drums, vocals (1967–1985, 2006)
- Harold Stone - keyboards (1966-1967)
- Touring members
- Sim Cain - drums (1999)
- Marty Richards - drums (2005, 2009-2011)
- Duke Levine - guitar (2011-present)
- Kevin Barry - guitar (2012-present)
- Tom Arey - drums, percussion (2012-present)
- Andricka Hall - backup vocals (1999, 2010-present)
- Catherine Russell - backup vocals (1999)
- Nichelle Tillman - backup vocals (2010-present)
- Mitch Chakour - backup vocals (2009-2010)
- Best of the J. Geils Band (1979) No. 129 US
- Flashback: The Best of The J. Geils Band (1985)
- Flamethrower (1986)
- Anthology: Houseparty (1993)
- Looking for a Love (1997)
- Best of the J. Geils Band (2006)
- Official website
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