The J. Geils Band (pronounced "Guiles") is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts best known for their 1981 single, "Centerfold" which charted #1 in the U.S. in early 1982. The band played R&B-influenced blues-rock in the 1970s before moving towards a more pop-influenced sound in the 1980s. Since their initial break-up in 1983, the band has reunited several times.
The band started as an acoustic blues trio in the mid 1960s, with singer 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, 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. Three of their live albums were recorded in Detroit at various venues.
The J. Geils Band first received FM radio airplay with the live single "First I Look at the Purse", then had several hit singles in the 1970s, the most successful of which were a cover version of The Showstoppers' "Ain't Nothin' But a Houseparty" (1973) and "Musta Got Lost" (1974). Later in the 1970s, the band signed with EMI America Records.
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, before it closed. 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).
The group's commercial fortunes improved in the early 1980s, first with the humorous Love Stinks, then with their success with the Freeze Frame album which included "Centerfold" (#1 for six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100) and then the title cut (#4). "Centerfold" also became their only major hit single in the United Kingdom, where it reached #3 in February 1982. 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 reunited with Wolf in 1999, for a 13 date tour of the east coast and upper mid-west. Wolf continues to tour with his own backup band, and the rest of the Geils band makes occasional appearances.
Since the semi-retirement of the band, Geils has been restoring sports cars in Massachusetts and started the legendary 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 in hiatus.
In 2004, Geils produced the album Nail It! for Massachusetts-based blues/rock group The Installers (Francesca Records #1011). He has also been known to appear on stage with The Installers occasionally.
On May 22, 2006, the six original members had a surprise reunion, at bassist Danny Klein's 60th birthday party at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.
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, and is finishing up on a new solo cd.
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 The Avalon, The Axis, The Embassy, and The Modern) with longtime associate Marty Richards filling in for original drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. Subsequently they played two shows on April 24 and 25 at Detroit's Fillmore Theater (formerly State Theater). They also did a a second show on Landsdowne St. April 28. No tour is planned however.
On July 11, 2009, the J. Geils Band reunited one more time at the Borgata Hotel / Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The band sold out the Borgata's 2,000-seat Event Center.