After three previous nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the members of the J. Geils Band feel a bit inured to the prospect of being inducted. But they’re also allowing themselves a bit of optimism for their fourth and latest round of consideration by the voters.
“One always hopes it turns into fruition, but it’s one of those things that, to quote a Chuck Berry song, you never can tell,” frontman Peter Wolf — who’s inducted artists such as Jackie Wilson and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band into the Rock Hall — tells Billboard. Harmonica player Magic Dick Salwitz, meanwhile, adds, “This is our fourth nomination, and going through that process, with its inherent disappointment, you’re not sure you want to take that ride again. It’s great to be recognized, but it’s a drag to be disappointed. I hope that we make it in. That would be great.”
But Magic Dick doesn’t plan to obsess about the vote while it’s going on. “I find awards to be distracting,” he explains. “I really need to keep my attention on my instrument and what I’m doing musically. I find these kinds of excitements kind of interfere with my normal groove. So I try to keep my focus off awards, but I recognize the need for the industry to have them and for fans who want it. It’s great to be part of all this and to recognize that other people get excited about it. So do I. But I find these kinds of excitements kind of interfere with my normal groove. It’s just a matter of maintaining a balance.”
If the J. Geils Band is chosen, it may mark a reunion of the original lineup for the first time since 2006. Drummer Stephen Jo Bladd retired on friendly terms, while guitarist and namesake J. Geils’ 2012 split with the group was acrimonious and led to a lawsuit over the band name. Wolf, however, is confident that “everybody would enjoy the moment, ’cause it’s a great honor.” Magic Dick, meanwhile, demures. “I don’t know how to answer that. I really don’t,” he says. “Let’s just see what happens should we get in.”
The Geils Band usually plays some live dates each year but has not during 2016 — with no plans to before the year’s out. Wolf has been concentrating on his latest solo album, A Cure for Loneliness, while Magic Dick has released an EP, About Time, with guitarist Shun Ng.