This is so sad. Another rock icon has left us, as The J. Geils Band founder and lead guitarist John Warren Geils Jr. has died at 71-years-old. We’ve got the details on his tragic passing.
Another great rock and roll star is jamming in the heavens as John Warren Geils Jr. has passed away at age 71. The founder and lead guitarist of The J. Geils Band found massive success back in the early 1980’s with their best-selling album Freeze Frame, which spawned a hit by the same name as well as their mega-classic song “Centerfold.” Police responded to a welfare check at John’s Groton, MA home where he had lived for the past 35 years and found his body Apr. 11. While no cause of death has been released, foul play is not suspected.
John grew up playing jazz trumpet, but he eventually switched to blues guitar. While studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the mid-’60s, he formed a blues trio called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels, alongside bass player Danny Klein and Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz on harmonica. The three moved to nearly Boston, and with the addition of keyboardist Seth Justman, drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and singer Peter Wolf they became The J. Geils Band, landing their first record deal in 1970.
The band struggled to find a mass audience over the course of the next decade, despite keeping financially afloat through rousing live shows. They finally hit it big with their 11th album Love Stinks in 1980 that spawned a hit single by the same name. They rose to mega-fame the following year with Freeze Frame, which topped the music charts while “Centerfold” became their first number one hit. The J. Geils Band was so huge at the time that the likes of The Eagles, U2 and Billy Joel served as their opening acts at the height of their popularity.
The band broke up several years later and sadly never recorded again, although they did reunite a handful of times over the past decade and half for live shows. Their most recent tour was in 2014-15 when they opened for classic rocker Bob Seger.
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