J. Geils Band
BiographyLed by Bronx-bred blues connoisseur and sometime art student Peter Wolf (nee Blakefield), the Hallucinations were an attraction on the Boston club circuit from their formation in 1967. Renamed the J. Geils Band for their lead guitarist, the group signed with Atlantic Records, which issued a self-titled debut in 1970. Their bar-band energy, along with Wolf's jive stage talk -- he was a former DJ for seminal Boston FM-rock outlet WBCN, and dubbed himself the "Woofa Goofa with the green teeth" -- quickly made them a nationwide favorite. (The cover art for their second release, The Morning After, was shot in a Virginia Beach motel room.)
Road warriors to the highest degree, the Geils Band spent the 1970s missing as much as hitting (although their chart successes included "Give It to Me," "Must of Got Lost" and a breakneck cover of Bobby Womack's "Lookin' for a Love"), but always putting asses in the seats: their discography includes three live albums. Moving to break out of a sometimes confining artistic stance, they stretched themselves on admired if commercially failed LPs such as Ladies Invite and Monkey Island (credited simply to "Geils," the 1977 disc would be their last for Atlantic).
A new pact with EMI America saw the J. Geils Band slowly turning their fortunes around. Their second album for the label, 1980's Love Stinks, partook of a New Wave-influenced sound and attitude; it marked the first time two consecutive Geils 45s ("Come Back" and the deathless title cut) hit the Billboard Top 40. Sanctuary (1978) and Love Stinks both went gold, but the decade-plus veterans had an unexpected career record up their sleeves.
Freeze Frame appeared in 1981, and was soon a phenomenon. Its first single, "Centerfold," was an insanely catchy ode to a high-school crush with a new occupation, and wound up spending six weeks at No. 1. With the album certified platinum, its title track hit the Top 5, and its electro-funkin' B-side, "Flamethrower," went to No. 25 on the R&B charts. But even as the J. Geils Band triumphantly headlined arenas, they were falling apart. Freeze Frame proved to be their last studio release with Wolf. As he went on to solo fame with "Lights Out" and "Come As You Are," a hobbled Geils Band issued a flop LP, You're Getting' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd. Wolf continues to make well-received discs, while "Jay Geils" and harp master Magic Dick worked together again in the '90s. Geils' first solo album, Jay Geils Plays Jazz, came out in 2004.