I thought perhaps we broke the spell of the seeming daily reports of another rock star dying. But no. This one comes in the form of one of the stalwart bands of the early 1970s, when traditional Rock was claiming its rightful place in the grand scheme of things. The J.Geils Band were from Worcester Massachusetts, and got together in 1967, initially as a three piece. Founded by guitarist John Geils, the band hovered between Rhythm & Blues and traditional Rock. Over time they added members and what was originally The J.Geils Blues Band became simply The J. Geils Band. They were a hard working outfit; touring almost constantly and opening for everyone from The Byrds to The Allman Brothers. Their debut album came out on Atlantic in 1970 and scored their first hit with a cover of the Contours First I Look At The Purse.
After a string of hits, and the dawn of MTV, the band gradually changed direction – heading into more New Wave territory. But by this time they were a huge success, with their 3rd album, Bloodshot a commercial breakthrough for the band. And coupled with MTV they became a household name.
They continued this winning streak into the early 1980s where they achieved their commercial as well as mainstream success. But it was also this time that the band went through direction clashes. And by 1983, lead singer Peter Wolf left the band, citing musical and artistic differences. The band broke up in 1985.
Over the years there have been several reunions, with J. Geils at the helm.
And all that stopped as of today when John “J.” Geils was reported unresponsive and pronounced dead at his home in Groton, Massachusetts.
As a reminder of what the first incarnation of The J. Geils Band sounded like, when they were still hitting the road and building an audience, here is a memorable gig at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, from November 3, 1974.
If you were around at the time you’ll remember – if you missed them, you missed something special.
Play loud and hoist a few.