Peter Wolf is a music fan. “I’m a human shuffle,” he says of his favorite genres. “I don’t have one kind of music I love. If it’s good, it’s good.” It was that love that drew him to the industry—as a performer, radio host and DJ. Eventually he became the lead vocalist and percussionist of the J. Geils Band and later embarked on a solo career.
When Wolf comes to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) on Friday, April 21, he’ll treat fans to a combination of his solo work, as well as his iconic songs with the J. Geils Band, including his top-charting singles “Freeze Frame,” “Love Stinks” and “Centerfold.”
“The more intimate, the better,” says Wolf regarding the WHBPAC space. Though he has never played in Westhampton Beach, he has been out east before. “I used to go when a lot of painters and artists lived out there. It was more rural than it is today,” he reflects.
Growing up in the Bronx, Wolf spent time at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, hearing R&B idols like James Brown perform. His painting skills earned him a full ride to the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. He didn’t take up music until encouraged to do so at a party. A blues band was playing. “I had a little too much wine and joined them,” he says. Wolf was particularly drawn to the collaborative aspect of music. “It was so exciting to be playing with musicians, as opposed to being in the studio alone,” he says. He joined that band, the Hallucinations.
Wolf soon had a radio show on WBCN in Boston, where he recalls being “one of the first FM radio shows that had music on it,” he says. When musicians came to town, they’d stop by his show. Wolf had the opportunity to interview the likes of Van Morrison, Rod Stewart and Jimmy Page, among others.
Wolf got together with other Boston-area musicians in 1967 to form the J. Geils Band. The group released their first album in 1970. Their third album, Bloodshot, released in 1973, was the first to chart in the Top 10. The next year, Wolf married actress Faye Dunaway. They divorced in 1979, but they still keep in touch. They’ve chatted about the now-infamous Oscars gaffe, where Dunaway and co-host Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope for Best Picture. It’s personal,” says Wolf. “If she wanted to comment, I would leave it up to her.”
Wolf played with the J. Geils Band until they broke up in 1985. By then, they’d achieved next-level fame, particularly after the release of Freeze Frame in 1981, which featured the hit single “Centerfold.”
Wolf released his first solo album, Lights Out, in 1984. He’s since released six solo albums and has collaborated with rock icons including Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
“Being a music fan, it’s been such a thrill to be able to work in the studio with people I admire and grew up idolizing,” says Wolf.
Wolf has become known for his musicianship, as well as for his dynamic stage presence. To relax, Wolf enjoys reading. But, on April 21, Wolf will be full of energy, as he brings his signature rock style to Westhampton Beach!
Peter Wolf and the Midnight Travelers play WBPAC on Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m. 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, For tickets ($35-$55) visit whbpac.org or call 631-288-1500.