John Warren Geils Jr., the artist known professionally as J. Geils who gave his name to the 1980s rock group he founded, The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Mass., home Tuesday. He was 71.
Groton Chief of Police Donald Palma Jr. confirmed the death, adding in a press release that a preliminary investigation "indicates that Geils died of natural causes."
Palma said that because the death was "unattended," it will be investigated but "foul play is not suspected at this time." He said Groton police went to the home around 4 p.m. ET in response to a well-being check and found Geils unresponsive.
The news was first tweeted by WCVB TV in Boston.
Geils was a vocalist and guitarist for The J. Geils Band, which he formed in Worcester, Mass., in 1967, when he was attending school at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
In the 1970s, the band achieved success with a bluesy-rock sound and built up a strong following by constant touring, opening for such bands as The Allman Brothers and The Byrds. They were known for their use of the harmonica as a lead instrument.
They moved to a more mainstream hit-making new-wave sound in the 1980s. Their third album, Freeze Frame, was No. 1 for four weeks in 1983, and its hit song, Centerfold, was No. 1 for six weeks on the Billboard Top 100. Another song fans might remember from 1980: The humorous Love Stinks.
The band broke up in 1985 but got back together for reunions regularly ever since
When not playing music, Geils was restoring sports cars, starting a performance shop, KTR European Motorsports, in Ayer, Mass., after he started collecting Italian motorcycles and sports cars. According to Hemmings, a car-collecting marketplace online, by the time he sold the business about a decade ago, it was known as the "house that rock built."
In 1992, Geils joined his old bandmate Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz to form the band Bluestime, which released two records: the self-titled Bluestime (1994) and Little Car Blues (1996) on Rounder Records.
The J. Geils Band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time last fall but again was not selected as part of the 2017 class. At the time, Salwitz told Billboard, "It's great to be recognized, but it's a drag to be disappointed."