Guitarist John Geils, best known as the founder of the 1980s new wave group the J. Geils band, was found dead in his home of natural causes, police in Groton, Massachusetts, where Geils lived, announced on 11 April 2017. He was 71 years old.
Officers found his body while responding to a well-being call in the late afternoon. "Upon arrival to the house, police located a man who was unresponsive," the chief of police said in a statement. "He was declared dead at the scene."
An investigation is underway, though no foul play is suspected.
Born in New York City, Geils was interested in music from a young age, Variety reported:
Geils grew up listening to artists like Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. He studied Miles Davis tunes on trumpet and drums and played trumpet at Northeastern University. He eventually became attracted to the folk scene in Boston, and left Northeastern to study at Worcester Polytechnic University, where the J. Geils Band was formed.
Geils recruited other band members “Magic Dick” Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, Peter Wolf, and Seth Justman. The group originated as a R&B-influenced blues rock group in the 1970s, making an impression with songs including “Lookin’ for a Love,” “Cry One More Time,” “Must Of Got Lost,” and one of their biggest hits, “Give It To Me.”
As the 1980s dawned the group adopted a slightly more new wave rock sound. Their title song from their 11th album, “Love Stinks,” is familiar to younger audiences from its appearance on the soundtrack of “The Wedding Singer.” They reached their biggest success with “Freeze Frame,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1983.
Geils took a hiatus from music after the band broke up in 1985, then returned to the scene with a new band, Bluestime, seven years later. He released a solo jazz CD, J. Geils Plays Jazz!, in 2005, followed by two more jazz-oriented albums in 2006 and 2009.