Guitarist John Warren Geils Jr., known to the world as J. Geils, died on Tuesday in his Massachusetts home. He was 71.
Geils was the founder and lead guitarist of the eponymous J.Geils Band. The group attained rock star status with a string of chart-topping hits in the ‘80s that included “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold.”
Groton police found Geils dead in his home around 4 p.m.
“A preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes,” police said in a statement.
Geils was born in New York and raised in Far Hills, N.J.
He started the J. Geils Band in 1967 in Worcester, Mass., while studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The group signed with Atlantic Records in 1970.
After opening for B.B. King, Johnny Winter, The Allman Brothers Band and The Byrds, the band had several Top 40 singles in the early 1970s, including a cover of The Valentinos’ “Lookin’ for a Love” and the reggae-infused “Give It to me.”
With the rise of MTV, the group shot to true super stardom in the early 1980s with their albums “Love Stinks” and “Freeze Frame.”
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The band, led by Geils driving guitar and vocalist Peter Wolf, scored their biggest hit with “Centerfold” in 1981. The song held the number one spot on the Billboard charts for six weeks.
“Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P. Jay Geils,” Wolf wrote on Facebook Tuesday.
They got back together for several reunion tours and shows, most recently as opening for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in 2014 and 2015.
Geils also produced an album for Danny Klein and formed the band Bluestime with Magic Dick.
The J. Geils Band were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time last year, but weren’t selected.
“Sad to lose J. Geils. Me n Grin learned so much opening for @TheJ_GeilsBand. J and band were always kind. RIP John,” tweeted E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren .
“One of the great original and distinctly Boston rock and roll bands,” tweeted actor Michael Chiklis. “Losing more and more of my childhood. RIP.”