Formed by guitarist John Warren Geils Jr in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1967, they were originally Snoopy and The Sopwith Camels, then The J Geils Blues Band. Singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Bladd had been members of The Hallucinations. Magic Dick (Richard Salwitz) played harmonica. Their good-time rock’n’roll sound was exemplified by the catchy, MTV-friendly Centerfold, a US No 1 and UK No 3, from their successful 1981 album Freeze-Frame. They broke up in 1985; occasional reunions followed. Geils and Magic Dick released two albums as Bluestime in the 1990s. Geils died in April 2017.
The J Geils Band
The Cherokees, from Richmond, Virginia, changed their name to The Jarmels (after a street in Harlem, New York City) and had one hit, A Little Bit of Soap (1961). If they sound like The Drifters, it’s not surprising: it was Ben E King who discovered them and invited them to New York. The last surviving original member, Ray Smith, recorded an album with a new version of the group to mark the 50th anniversary of their hit single in 2011.
Previously known as Tricity (after the brand of electrical appliances), Jemini made history in Riga, Latvia in 2003 by becoming the first UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest to score nul points with their song Cry Baby. Enjoy it all over again here. Cry Baby reached No 15 in the British charts but the duo broke up soon after. Jeremy Corbyn, later to become leader of the Labour Party, blamed the invasion of Iraq for Britain’s unpopularity in the contest, which has endured.
Josie and The Lovecats
Cornwall, in the far south-west of England, is not exactly a musical hotbed but charismatic singer Josie Dobson‘s now defunct left-field trio, who cited influences as diverse as Bela Bartok, Bjork, Janis Joplin and The Velvet Underground, had an interesting sound. This beguiling video for their 2010 single Brother gives you the idea. Not to be confused with …
Josie and The Pussycats
Josie, Melody and Valerie (who replaced Pepper) began their illustrious musical career in a teen comic book, published regularly by Archie Comics from 1963 to 1982. They were given a manga makeover in 2005 and are now appearing in the TV series Riverdale. A Hanna Barbera cartoon series, Josie and The Pussy Cats (later Josie and The Pussycats in Outer Space) ran for six years from 1970. But the girls’ big break came in 2001, with the release of the musical comedy film Josie and The Pussycats, in which with the help of a boy band called Du Jour they uncover a government conspiracy to transmit subliminal messages through pop songs, a point underlined by the film’s deliberately over-the-top product placement. Rachael Leigh Cook plays Josie, but Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo sings her part on the excellent soundtrack album, which went gold, although the movie was a critical and commercial flop.