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The J. Geils Band

The J. Geils Band was one of the most popular touring rock & roll bands in America during the '70s. Where their contemporaries were influenced by the heavy boogie of British blues-rock and the ear-splitting sonic adventures of psychedelia, the J. Geils Band was a bar band pure and simple, churning out greasy covers of obscure R&B, doo wop, and soul tunes, cutting them with a healthy dose of Stonesy swagger. While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group's main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like "Give It to Me" and "Must of Got Lost," but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio. In the early '80s, the group tempered its driving rock with some pop, and the makeover paid off with the massive hit single "Centerfold," which stayed at number one for six weeks. By the time the band prepared to record a follow-up, tensions between Justman and Wolf had grown considerably, resulting in Wolf's departure, which quickly led to the band's demise. After working for years to reach to top of the charts, the J. Geils Band couldn't stay there once they finally achieved their goal.

Guitarist J. Geils, bassist Danny Klein, and harpist Magic Dick (born Richard Salwitz) began performing as an acoustic blues trio sometime in the mid-'60s. In 1967, drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and vocalist Peter Wolf joined the group, and the band went electric. Before joining the J. Geils Band, Bladd and Wolf played together in the Boston-based rock revivalist band the Hallucinations. Both musicians shared a love of arcane doo wop, blues, R&B, and rock & roll, and Wolf had become well-known by spinning such obscure singles as a jive-talking WBCN DJ called Woofuh Goofuh. Wolf and Bladd's specialized tastes became a central force in the newly revamped J. Geils Band, whose members positioned themselves as tough '50s greasers in opposition to the colorful psychedelic rockers who dominated the East Coast in the late '60s. Soon, the band had earned a sizable local following, including Seth Justman, an organist who was studying at Boston University. Justman joined the band in 1968, and the band continued to tour for the next few years, landing a record contract with Atlantic in 1970.

The J. Geils Band was a regional hit upon its early 1970 release, and it earned favorable reviews, especially from Rolling Stone. The group's second album, The Morning After, appeared later that year and, thanks to the Top 40 hit "Looking for a Love," the album expanded the band's following. However, the J. Geils Band continued to win new fans primarily through their concerts, so it was no surprise that their third album, 1972's Full House, was a live set. It was followed by Bloodshot, a record that climbed into the Top Ten on the strength of the Top 40 hit "Give It to Me." Following the relative failure of 1973's Ladies Invited, the band had another hit with 1974's Nightmares, which featured the number 12 single "Must of Got Lost." While their live shows remained popular throughout the mid-'70s, both Hot Line (1975) and the live Blow Your Face Out (1976) were significant commercial disappointments. The band revamped its sound and shortened its name to "Geils" for 1977's Monkey Island. While the album received good reviews, the record failed to bring the group increased sales.

In 1978, the J. Geils Band left Atlantic Records for EMI, releasing Sanctuary later that year. Sanctuary slowly gained a following, becoming their first gold album since Bloodshot. Love Stinks (1980) expanded the group's following even more, peaking at number 18 in the charts and setting the stage for 1981's Freeze Frame, the band's high watermark. Supported by the infectious single "Centerfold" -- which featured a memorable video that received heavy MTV airplay -- and boasting a sleek, radio-ready sound, Freeze Frame climbed to number one. "Centerfold" shot to the top of the charts late in 1981, spending six weeks at number one; its follow-up, "Freeze-Frame," was nearly as successful, reaching number four in the spring of 1982. The live album Showtime! became a gold album shortly after its late 1982 release.

While the band was experiencing the greatest commercial success of its career, relationships between the members, particularly writing partners Justman and Wolf, were volatile. When the group refused to record material Wolf had written with Don Covay and Michael Jonzun, he left the band in the middle of a 1983 recording session. Justman assumed lead vocals, and the group released You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd in late 1984, several months after Wolf's successful solo debut, Lights Out. The J. Geils Band's record was a failure, and the band broke up in 1985. Magic Dick and J. Geils reunited in 1993 to form a contemporary blues band that has released two CDs, Bluestime and Little Car Blues. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Wolf and the magic dock! Get down baby!
MAN IF DICK on the locking stick!!!
duke and the drivers still playing held a small gig couple weeks a go for a kid with cancer
saw j,geils and aerosmith last summer Fenway park j.geils blew them away!
mohawkpastor
Saw at the NYS Fair for the one and only time in 2012 and they were awesome... Blow Your Face Out is a true classic that does not lose value over the years - regardless of its commercial success.
I would have to say the were my favorite band and concerts in the 70's...
kevgoodua86
I read some of these comments & just laugh cause j. Geils in not for everybody , thats whats makes them my favorite band . Saw them live many times through the eighties. They always blow face out. My hearing damage is from magic dick solos , & small venues where it was too loud but thats the j. Geils band
kvons1
The former Hallucinatio n s - - - P e t e Wolf 1968 nighttime DJ on WBCN-FM 104.1 ----memories .
Wow I'm so o loven. J. Geils. Had. To. Say. It twice. What. A store. Never. Mind
Started. Da. Mtv stuff! Early. 70S. Married. To Fay. Donnaway yo! Peter. Wolf. That. White man could. Dance. Man boooggie
have to agree with milosdad on both counts
Did you know she was married to fay dunnawy and did white man dance on what
Wademm57 was it Duke and the drivers, Aerosmith & the beach boys?
Since they reunited in 2009, The J. Geils Band sounds better than ever! Saw them in Atlantic City 3 times and once in Allentown PA since then and they are fantastic. They played 5 stadium shows in '13 opening for Bon Jovi. Peter Wolf solo is also worth seeing.
milosdad
I must say though, I hate the abbreviated versions of some of these songs.
milosdad
Journey Lover, your name says it all.
They are not good at all
The live version of Lookin' For A Love is one of the great kickass rock 'n roll songs ever.
chriswcollin s I was at that concert 1975 Boston Garden the Duke we trust $ money fell from the ceiling
milosdad
Agree with darvin540. I have all of their records and the first four are really, really good. Also love Monkey Island.
check out there first few albums, no real hits maybe, but the band at their best
One hit song. And it is Centerfold.
Do any of you beaners remember Duke& the Drivers (in Duke we trust)$


J. Geils was my first concert. It was Summer of 2010 at DTE. Monkey Island is gorgeous.
I saw J. Geils Band a couple times in the early 70's - Toledo, OH and I think Ft. Wayne, IN. Toledo show was fantastic - they were the main event and the opening band was none other that Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes! Awesome concert and even to this day, I compare this event with almost everything I listen to. No one does live shows like those bands anymore - except Springsteen, maybe. What happened? I still listen to them on my iPhone nearly every day.
milosdad
Turning my kids on to this band and educating younger (in their 40's) friends who only know the MTV era band. I set up You Tube yesterday to rotate old footage of these guys. Great flashbacks.
hodgdons7
HA ... the Hallucinatio n s ! I lived in Beantown in height of J Geils Band's popularity. Forget where it was we saw them .... wink wink!! No Anchovies Please!!
I saw them in 1977 in Athens, Ohio. As a college student, I was lucky enough to be part of the theater's set-up crew. Their road manager/truc k driver told the lighting techs that Peter Wolfe would jump just like a bullfrog on stage. He was absolutely right and they were absolutely great. Wish they had stayed together longer.

Lawguy

kvons1
Well remember the Hallucinatio n s and well remember Wolf as weekend DJ for WBCN live from the Boston Tea Party-----an c i e n t memories.
brianna_appe l
Who wrote this review? He obviously did NOT grow up in Boston in the late 70's. I can tell you this band evolved a lot differently than depicted. Great music. Bad writeup.
I know this is wrong but does anyone else think Freeze Frame sounds a lot like the Duck Tales theme song?
I WAS BORN IN THE WRONG ERA.... BUT I'M SO GLAD THERE SO MUCH GREAT MUSIC STILL AROUND
I need to get a lot of their albums if I like their songs so much!!!! I'm probably gonna have to get a lot of money too.
milosdad
Are you ready to get down? Get it all night, get it all right get down baby Mr. Magic Dick on the lickin' stick
They need more of their albums.
where is full house byb j giels
Great J Geils tune. Love overcomes everything though.
dgsummerfun
J Geils great pick me up! Great in concert:):): ) KEEP SMILING!
I used to keep J. Geils (1st album) in my car. If the party slowed down, I just slapped that on the turntable. Ice Breaker certainly was.
This is my boogie woogie get down toogie jam of all time!!!!
Greatest live band ever!!!!!
saw the band a few nights ago at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD and they were fantastic! If they come to your town go see them, a show not to be missed!
I was just thinking about it's been since '68 in Tex.at 14 I've always been a fan. They do an unbelievable live concert!
iskinner784
also cant forget magic dick with tull
iskinner784
musta got lost off of blow your face off was one the all time best live recordings ever made
best concert ii ever been too
kvons1
Was never a huge fan of J. Geils Band, regardless-- they did do some great stuff
kvons1
They're Taking You Down----they ' r e gonna right you up & they're gonna right you off! Peter Wolf---used to DJ live on weekend nights from the Boston Tea Party on WBCN 104.1FM 1968---I wanna go Baaaack!
Saw them warm up for Aerosmith at Fenway Park. Ooh YEAH Woobah Goobah with the green teeth!!!!!
Magic Dick was the best
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