‘Centerfold’ frontman J. Geils dead at 71

J.-GeilsNEW YORK: J. Geils, the blues rock guitarist whose band topped the charts with the party-ready 1981 anthem “Centerfold,” died Tuesday, police said. He was 71.

The rocker, whose full name was John Warren Geils Jr., was found unresponsive when emergency personnel were called to his home in Groton, Massachusetts, police said in a statement.

Police said they were investigating the cause of death but had ruled out foul play.

Leading The J. Geils Band, the guitarist adapted blues influences to create a hard-rocking, fun-loving rock sound that appealed to a largely working-class male audience.

“Centerfold,” a tale of a man who is stunned that a girl he fancied in school has posed in an adult magazine, spent six weeks at number one on the US chart, led by a video that enjoyed heavy airplay in the first days of MTV.

The J. Geils Band was sometimes compared to another Massachusetts band, Aerosmith, but did not have the same staying power.

The J. Geils Band had another hit with “Freeze Frame,” the title track off the album that featured “Centerfold,” but the band dissolved several years later.

Underlying the split were tensions pitting Geils against keyboardist Seth Justman and guitarist Peter Wolf, who together wrote much of the music.

The band members fought to keep the use of the name The J. Geils Band despite performing without Geils. He retreated to Groton, best known for an elite private high school, and pursued a passion for restoring racecars.

Although Geils occasionally still performed, he focused on jazz and more classic blues, saying he had grown tired of the harder-charging rock.

The J. Geils Band has been nominated to but not entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.