Founder And Leader Of The J. Geils Band Dies At Age 71

Guitarist J. Geils, born John Warren Geils Jr., died Tuesday. He was 71. Geils was found dead in his Groton, Mass., home. He had lived in the town for 35 years. Groton police said officers responded to Geils’ home around 4 p.m. ET for a well-being check and found him unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene. “A preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes,” police said in a statement. 

As leader of the The J. Geils Band, the group had 17 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including 10 top 40-charting hits. The band’s biggest single, “Centerfold,” spent six weeks at No. 1, and “Freeze-Frame” peaked at No. 4.

Geils formed The J. Geils Band in 1967 with Danny Klein, “Magic Dick” Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd and Peter Wolf (later joined by Seth Justman) while studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. They released 11 studio albums before breaking up in 1985. They would reunite on and off over the years following. In 2012, Geils left the group for good.

The band’s other charting singles include “Love Stinks” (No. 38), “Give It to Me” (No. 30), “Must of Got Lost” (No. 12) and “I Do” (No. 24). They also had 15 charting albums on the Billboard 200, including the No. 1 set Freeze-Frame, which spent four weeks atop the list in 1982 and finished at No. 5 on Billboard’s year-end Top Pop Albums chart (while “Centerfold” was the year’s No. 5 Top Pop Single).  

In 2012, The J. Geils Band toured without Geils’ involvement, leading the founding guitarist to file an unsuccessful lawsuit against group members Salwitz, Klein, Wolf and Justman over use of the band’s name for a tour without him. Geils left the band permanently following the suit. 

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