Craig Allen says: ‘Meet the J. Geils Band’
While the J. Geils Band formed in the 1960's, they didn't hit their "commercial" stride til the 1970's...and had their biggest success in the 1980's!
The band began as an acoustic blues trio, with John Geils on vocals and guitar, Danny Klein on bass, and harmonica player Richard Salwitz.
The band formed under the name 'Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels' while Geils was studying at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
In 1967, the band started to emphasize electric guitar and bass, and recruited drummer Stephen Jo Bladd, and fast-talking former radio personality and singer Peter Wolf (born Peter Blankenfeld).
They became the J. Geils Blues Band...later dropping the word "Blues."
Soon, organist Seth Justman joined the up-and-coming J. Geils Band.
The group signed with the Atlantic Records label in 1970.
Although from Boston, the band had always considered Detroit their second home, due to their enormous popularity in the Motor City. Two of their three live albums were recorded in Detroit.
Their second live album, "Blow Your Face Out" (1976) was recorded in both Boston and Detroit!
The J. Geils Band began to get AM Radio (top-40) airplay in the early 1970's!
"Looking For A Love" ( # 39 /1972)
Give It To Me" (# 30 /1973)
"Musta Got Lost" (# 12 /1975).
Then, for awhile, the hits dried up...until "One Last Kiss" (#35/1979 ).
Around this time, the band switched labels, signing with EMI America Records.
Throughout the 1970's, the J. Geils Band attracted special attention for its innovative use of the harmonica as a lead instrument.
Then came the "Decade Of Decadence," and with it more of a "New Wave" sound...and more "Hitradio" success for J. Geils!
First came the humorous "Love Stinks" (# 38 /1980).
I recently re-discovered this overlooked 1980 J. Geils gem: Come Back
I have been cranking up this #32 (1980) hit at home...and in the car. Remember it? ENJOY!!
The "Freeze Frame" album hit store shelves in 1981.
It included the monster hit...and one of Jersey's Greatest Hits:
"Centerfold" stayed perched atop the Billboard charts for 6 weeks!
It also happened to be the band's only major hit single in England, where it reached #3 in February of 1982.
The album's title track, "Freeze Frame" took its shot at the top of the charts, ultimately landing at #4 (1982).
J. Geils Band's next live album, "Showtime" was released in 1982, and contained their hit cover of "I Do" (#24), a 1965 hit by the Marvelows.
Peter Wolf would leave the group in 1983 over artistic disagreements.
The band went on to record one more album of new songs: "You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd," after Wolf left. The album produced only one single: "Concealed Weapons, " which was basically ignored.
The J. Geils Band called it quits in 1985, after contributing the title song to the 1985 horror film "Fright Night."
But...as we have seen with other 80's bands...that was not really the END...
The J. Geils Band would come out of mothballs...reuniting with Peter Wolf in 1999 for a 13 date tour of the East Coast and upper Midwest.
They reunited for a charity show in 2005.
On May 22, 2006, all six original members had a surprise reunion at bassist Danny Klein's 60th birthday party in Boston.
On July 11, 2009, the J. Geils Band played at Borgata in Atlantic City, selling out Borgata's 2,000-seat Event Center! Were YOU there? Please "chime" in below!!
2010 brought several concert dates...and legal action...with J. Geils suing the indvidual band members over the use of the name "J. Geils," claiming that they "planned and conspired" to exclude Geils from a tour and (were) 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 in Boston. The concert (as seen in the above video) was a benefit for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
In the Fall of 2014, and the following spring (2015), the band was the opening act for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band North America tour!
J. Geils played a few solo shows at this time, as well!
The band has been nominated for induction in the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" in 2005, 2006, 2011, 2017, and 2018. Nope, not in the Class of 2019.
In the meantime, their music lives on, here on New Jersey 101.5!