Happy Birthday: J. Geils

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Happy Birthday: J. Geils

Today we celebrate the birthday of John Warren Geils, Jr., a gentlemen better known simply by his first initial and his last name. Guitarist J. Geils died on April 11 of last year, making this the first year we’ve had to wish him a happy birthday without having him here to appreciate it. Still, wherever he may be, we expect he’s having a party, we’re sure it’s a full house, and as far as the list of attendees goes, we’ve got two words for you: LADIES INVITED.

To celebrate Geils’ birthday, we’ve put together a playlist featuring all of the J. Geils Band songs in Rhino’s catalog, but we’ve also compiled a list of five tracks featuring Geils in some capacity, whether it’s a guitar contribution or just a case of co-writing a song.

1. Buddy Guy, “This Old Fool” (1973): There’s a funny story about this song, which appears on the album BUDDY GUY AND JUNIOR WALKER PLAY THE BLUES, and it starts with the revelation that Walker doesn’t actually appear on this particular track. Although Guy and Walker had knocked out some solid recording together, they didn’t end up with enough tracks for a full album. To save the day, producer Michael Muscuna came up with the idea of teaming Guy with the J. Geils Band, the members of which clearly knew their way around the blues. The end results were pretty darned swell, as you can probably tell.

2. Eddie and the Hot Rods, “Hard Drivin’ Man” (1977): "People used to think I was weird because I was listening to blues stuff, like the J. Geils Band," Barrie Masters, lead singer of Eddie and the Hot Rods, told Devorah Ostrov in 2001. Clearly, one man’s weirdness is another man’s genius

3. Jay Geils, Duke Robillard, and Gerry Beaudoin, NEW GUITAR SUMMIT (2004): Whether you know the other two gentlemen involved in this album will depend strongly on just how much you know about modern day bluesmen, but Robillard was the founder of Roomful of Blues Group, while Beaudoin is one of the top blues guitarist in the New England area. Suffice it to say, though, that you’re damned right they’ve got the blues.

4. Dave Edmunds, “Wait” (1983): Although Edmunds’ INFORMATION album was chastised by some critics upon its release for sounding too much like co-producer Jeff Lynne and not enough like the man whose album it actually was, there are still some great Edmunds-produced tracks in the mix, including this J. Geils Band composition.

5. Missy Elliott, “Partytime” (2005): If you’re currently looking at this entry and going, “Holy crap, J. Geils worked with Missy Elliott?” we hate to let you down, but that’s not actually why this song makes the cut. It’s because Elliott sampled a 1972 live version of the J. Geils Band’s “Whammer Jammer” on the song. Still, in the most technical of senses, Geils did have a hand in the track, so we’re counting it!

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