Rock music fans are mourning the death of John Warren Geils Jr., the guitarist and founder of the J. Geils Band, who was found dead in his Massachusetts home Tuesday at age 71. Formed in 1967 and reaching their commercial peak in the ’80s, Geils’ eponymous band was known for such songs as “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame,” and most of all “Centerfold.”
You’ve surely heard the bouncy, synth-heavy tune — about a guy who is shocked to learn that his high school crush has posed nude in a men’s magazine — but here are four things you might not have known about it.
A New Sound
“Centerfold” marked a departure from the raw, blues-based sound that had been the J. Geils Band’s trademark throughout the ’60s and ’70s, earning them a reputation for dynamic live shows. Incorporating elements of new-wave pop, “Centerfold” catapulted them to mainstream success.
Released in September 1981 off the album Freeze-Frame, “Centerfold” took some time to catch fire but would ultimately prove to be the band’s biggest hit. The song reached the No. 1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1982 and stayed there for six weeks.
The “Centerfold” music video — which was in heavy rotation in the early days of MTV — was directed by Paul Justman, brother of J. Geils Band keyboard player and songwriter Seth Justman. Seth wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on Freeze-Frame, while Paul also directed the band’s videos for “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Freeze-Frame,” as well as the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
“Centerfold” has a long history on the big and small screens. It’s been used in movies including Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Watch, and Grown Ups 2; TV series including The Goldbergs, The King of Queens, Spaced, The Office, and Glee; and the third installment of the Rock Band video game series.