That time bluesy guitar great J. Geils told me that his first love was jazz

By Steve Newton

Sad to hear that J. Geils, guitarist for the great J. Geils Band, was discovered dead at his home in Groton, Massachusetts, today.

He was 71.

As a teenager in the seventies, I loved the JGB. I first got turned onto them through the “Live” Full House album of ’72, which was just a smokin’ concert disc. I was crazy about their versions of old R&B/blues numbers like “First I Look at the Purse” and “Homework”, but also mighty impressed by the original song “Hard Drivin’ Man”, cowritten by Geils and singer Peter Wolf.

After spending countless hours absorbing Full House I started getting into the band’s studio albums. My fave was 1973’s Bloodshot, with its killer opening track, “(Ain’t Nothin’ But A) House Party”. I used to play that at my house parties.

I only got to interview Geils once, back in 2006, when he was touring with the New Guitar Summit, which saw him trading jazz licks with ace pickers Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin.

After telling Geils how crazy I was about his rockin’ tunes in the ’70s, I asked him when he started switching toward the mellower jazz route. Turns out jazz actually came first for him.

Have a listen:

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One response to “That time bluesy guitar great J. Geils told me that his first love was jazz

  1. So sad. Many only knew the band from their hits of the early 80’s, but their earlier stuff was awesome. Thanks for letting us know about his jazz side.
    RIP J

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