The 71-year-old was found unresponsive by police around 4 p.m. Tuesday after they responded to his home for a well-being check. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Foul play is not suspected at this time.
“A preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes,” police said in a statement.
The J. Geils Band was founded in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts, while Geils, whose full name was John Warren Geils Jr., was studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Geils served as the band’s guitarist and vocalist. Bandmates included Danny Klein, Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman.
The band, whose music blended blues rock, R&B, soul and pop, released 11 studio albums and built a large following due to their energetic live shows as well as their unusual use of the harmonica as a lead instrument. The band broke up in 1985, but reunited off and on over the years.
The group had several Top 40 singles in the early 1970s, including a cover song “Lookin’ for a Love” by the family group The Valentinos and “Give It to Me.”
Their biggest hits included “Must of Got Lost,” which reached No. 12 on Billboard’s Top 100 in 1975 and “Love Stinks,” a humorous rant against unrequited love, the title song of their 1980 album. Their song “Centerfold,” from the album “Freeze Frame” was released in 1981 and eventually charted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in February 1982. It stayed there for six weeks and was featured on MTV.
The band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time last fall but once again was not selected as part of the 2017 class.
“This is our fourth nomination, and going through that process, with its inherent disappointment, you’re not sure you want to take that ride again,” lead vocalist Peter Wolf told Billboard at the time. “It’s great to be recognized, but it’s a drag to be disappointed. I hope that we make it in. That would be great.”
When news of Geils’ death broke, fans turned to social media to offer condolences and to reminisce about the band’s songs and concerts.
Geils has called Groton his home for 35 years.
Wolf wrote a short message on Facebook about his former bandmate, “Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P Jay Geils.”
WCVB’s Chronicle profiled Peter Wolf several months ago. Watch below: