Geils performing in concert
|Birth name||John Warren Geils Jr.|
|Born||(1946-02-20)February 20, 1946
New York City, New York U.S.
|Died||April 11, 2017(2017-04-11) (aged 71)
Groton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, blues, jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer, songwriter, producer|
|Labels||Atlantic, EMI America, Rounder, Arbors|
|Associated acts||The J. Geils Band, Bluestime, New Guitar Summit, Kings of Strings|
Geils was born in New York City and grew up in Morris Plains, New Jersey. His father was an engineer at Bell Labs and a jazz fan. From an early age, he heard his father’s albums by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and was escorted by his father to a Louis Armstrong concert. He worked out Miles Davis music on trumpet and drums, and he listened to blues guitarists Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters on the radio.
In 1964, he went to Northeastern University and was a trumpeter in the marching band. When he was drawn to folk musicians in Boston, he left Northeastern for Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he studied mechanical engineering. At Worcester, he formed J. Geils Blues Band with Danny Klein, Magic Dick Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, and Peter Wolf, with Seth Justman becoming the last member before the band released its debut album in 1970.
The J. Geils Band was influenced by soul music and rhythm and blues, but it moved toward pop and rock by the time the album Love Stinks (EMI, 1980) came out. Their next album, Freeze Frame, produced the song “Centerfold“, which sat at number one for six weeks. Tension and conflict arose among band members, and Peter Wolf left to pursue a solo career. The band broke up in 1985.
Geils put down the guitar to concentrate on auto racing and restoration. He returned to music in 1992 when he produced an album for Danny Klein and formed the band Bluestime with Magic Dick. He played in the New Guitar Summit with Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin and in the acoustic trio Kings of Strings with Beaudoin and Jerry Miller. In 2005, he released his first solo album, a jazz album.
In 2015, Geils was named to the Wall of Honor at his alma mater, Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
In addition to passing on an interest in jazz, Geils’s father took his son to auto races in Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Geils fell in love with Italian sports cars. He drove in five races a year during the early 1980s, at the peak of the J. Geils Band’s popularity (Freeze Frame was a number one album).
He opened KTR Motorsports, an automobile restoration shop in Carlisle, Massachusetts, to service and repair vintage sports cars such as Ferrari and Maserati. He sold the shop in 1996, though he continued to use the shop and participate in the company.
Personal life and death
- Jay Geils Plays Jazz! (Stony Plain, 2005)
- Jay Geils, Gerry Beaudoin and the Kings of Strings, featuring Aaron Weinstein (Arbors, 2006)
- Toe Tappin’ Jazz (North Star, 2009)
- Bluestime (Rounder, 1994)
- Little Car Blues (Rounder, 1996)
As New Guitar Summit
- New Guitar Summit (2004)
- New Guitar Summit: Live at the Stoneham Theatre (2004)