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J. Geils of The J. Geils Band Dies at 71

Variety logo Variety 4/12/2017 Erin Nyren
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John Warren Geils, Jr., known professionally as J. Geils and lead guitarist and founder of The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his home on Tuesday in Groton, Mass., the Groton Police Department confirmed. He was 71.

At approximately 4 p.m., police responded to a home Graniteville Road for a well-being check. Upon arrival, Geils was found unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Groton Police Department is currently investigating, according to Chief Donald Palma. However, foul play is not suspected, and a preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes.

Geils grew up listening to artists like Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. He studied Miles Davis tunes on trumpet and drums and played trumpet at Northeastern University. He eventually became attracted to the folk scene in Boston, and left Northeastern to study at Worcester Polytechnic University, where the J. Geils Band was formed.

Geils recruited other band members “Magic Dick” Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, Peter Wolf, and Seth Justman. The group originated as a R&B-influenced blues rock group in the 1970s, making an impression with songs including “Lookin’ for a Love,” “Cry One More Time,” “Must Of Got Lost,” and one of their biggest hits, “Give It To Me.”

As the 1980s dawned the group adopted a slightly more new wave rock sound. Their title song from their 11th album, “Love Stinks,” is familiar to younger audiences from its appearance on the soundtrack of “The Wedding Singer.” They reached their biggest success with “Freeze Frame,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1983.

The album included the hit single “Centerfold,” which stayed at stayed at No. 1 for six weeks. Bands such as The Eagles, U2, Billy Joel, and ZZ Top all opened for the band while on tour. The band broke up in 1985, and Geils decided to focus on other pursuits.

In 1992, Geils returned to music, forming the band Bluestime with Magic Dick. He returned to his jazz roots with the release of his first solo album in 2005.

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