Peter Wolf, Stevie Van Zandt, And More React To The Death Of J. Geils

Peter Wolf is mourning the death of his longtime bandmate, J. Geils. After the J. Geils Band founder and guitarist was found dead at his Massachusetts home at age 71, Wolf posted a tribute to him on social media.

"Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P," Peter captioned a throwback photo of himself with J and his former bandmates.

The famed guitarist, who was born John Warren Geils, was found dead in his home of natural causes, according to Billboard.

The group initially started out as an acoustic trio in the mid-1960s, but Peter Wolf gave the group new energy when he joined as lead singer in 1967. The band signed with Atlantic Records in 1970. Peter Wolf and J. Geils shot to fame in 1973 with the single "Must of Got Lost," but the group hit superstar status in the early 1980s with the song "Love Stinks," which was rumored to have been inspired by lead singer Peter Wolf's ill-fated marriage to actress Faye Dunaway, which ended in divorce in 1979.

That same year, the song "Freeze-Frame" became a radio-friendly hit and the MTV heavy rotation favorite, "Centerfold," charted at No. 1 in 1982.

Peter Wolf quit the group in 1983 over creative differences but returned to perform with them for reunion tours several times after that. In 2012, J filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Wolf and ex- bandmates Richard Salwitz, Danny Klein, and Seth Justman for use of the J Geils name on a tour without him.

In a 2012 interview with radio station WZLX, Wolf talked about how the lawsuit put a permanent rift between him and his longtime bandmate, saying the suit was an attack against a brotherhood.

"What Jay did behind everyone's back was very disturbing," Peter said.

"If we felt that the musicality and the integrity of the band was at stake we would not be on the road... [He] did a very deceptive thing; it was not what we'd consider in any way a correct way to do to band brothers."
Wolf went on to compare his band to other famous rock groups like the Allman Brothers and Van Halen, who kept their names intact despite multiple lineup changes.

"The name represents the group as a whole," Peter said. "The J. Geils Band represents an energy, an attitude, and a catalog of work that I and Seth Justman have wrote and the band has for many years committed to play and it's a certain style…Not unlike Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith."

Wolf also made it clear that the group's history would not be compromised over in-fighting with their estranged guitarist.

"It's not just the musicality," Peter said. "Someone has to commit their body, mind, and heart. It takes a lot of energy and passion to make the show what it is and provide the music the way we do it…We have a long history and our history is going to continue. Like bands that stay around for decades, there are curves and twists and binds. The good ones are able to get through it."

Sadly, J and Peter never reconciled and the guitarist permanently left the group he founded following the dispute. Five years later, Peter Wolf is paying his respects to his former musical partner.

In addition to Peter Wolf, many other musicians and celebrities posted tributes to J Geils, including Stevie Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, and guitar legend Tom Morello.

Take a look at the video below to see Peter Wolf performing one of the group's biggest hits from the 1980s.

[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]