5 Things You May Not Have Known About The J. Geils Band
Today we celebrate the birthday of the late, great guitarist known as J. Geils, and we do so by offering up not only a playlist of his band’s best tracks from within the Rhino catalog but also a list of five things that you may or may not have known about him.
- The “J” stands for John.
Yes, we realize we’re starting off slow, but be honest: did you know what the “J” stood for? And don’t just try to assure us that you were totally going to say “John,” because you’re not fooling anyone.
- Despite being known for his blues chops, Geils started out as a jazz man.
Geils’ father was a big jazz fan, one who played albums by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman around the house and took his son to see Louis Armstrong in concert for his 10th birthday and to see Miles Davis for his 13th birthday. (In short order, Geils was working out how to play Davis songs on trumpet and drums.) In a nice nod to his past, when Geils finally got around to releasing a solo album in 2005, it was entitled J. GEILS PLAYS JAZZ!
- If he wasn’t a Peanuts fan, one of his early bandmates apparently was.
Prior to the founding of the band that bore his name, Geils was in an acoustic blues trio with Danny Klein and harmonica player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz. Obviously, both Danny and Magic Dick continued working with Geils, but before they evolved into The J. Geils Band, they played gigs under the name “Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels.” (No word on which one of them was ostensibly Snoopy.)
- Some of the most successful artists of the ‘70s and ‘80s opened for The J. Geils Band over the years.
In case you’re suspicious that this is mere hyperbole, we can assure you that it is not. At various points in their career, the Eagles, Billy Joel, ZZ Top, Yes, the Allman Brothers, and U2 opened for Geils and the band.
- He was in a band with Keith Richards and Ron Wood.
Don’t get too excited: the band – called The (Original) Carltones – apparently played precisely once, and for the duration of a single song. It was on July 27, 1982 while The J. Geils Band was opening for The Rolling Stones. To celebrate Mick Jagger’s birthday, Geils, Richards, Wood, Peter Wolf, Seth Justman, and Bobby Keys.