REGION – Rock guitarist John Warren Geils Jr., better known as J. Geils, was born on this day, February 20, in 1946.
While attending college in 1967 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the New York City native and blues and jazz aficionado formed the J. Geils Blues Band, although the word “Blues” would be dropped from the name a few years later. The band’s hard-driving sound, a mixture of R&B, soul, and blues rock, and its frenetic live shows gained it a loyal following in the Boston area, and it first album was released by Atlantic Records in 1970. The band toured nationally throughout the 1970s and released eight albums. In the 1980s it turned in a more pop direction, scoring its biggest commercial hits, including the song “Centerfold,” which hit number one in the US on the Billboard chart.
After the J. Geils Band broke up in 1985, Geils turned away from music for a time, to pursue his interest in auto restoration and racing, focusing on vintage Italian sports cars like Maserati and Ferrari models. In the 1990s he returned to his blues roots, recording two albums with former J. Geils Band harmonica player Magic Dick, under the name Bluestime. He also formed a jazz trio and released a jazz solo album during the same decade. Beginning in 1999, the J. Geils Band reunited for several reunion tours and individual performances until the death of its namesake member and leader.
J. Geils died of natural causes at his home in Groton in 2017.