Peter Wolf

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Peter Wolf
Background information
Birth name Peter Blankfield
Born (1946-03-07) March 7, 1946 (age 71)
Bronx, New York, US
Genres Rock and roll, blues, blue-eyed soul
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, DJ
Instruments Vocals, piano, percussion
Years active 1966–present
Labels EMI, Reprise
Associated acts The J. Geils Band

Peter Wolf (born Peter Blankfield; March 7, 1946) is an American rhythm and blues, soul and rock and roll musician, best known as the lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band from 1967 to 1983[1] and for a successful solo career with writing partner Will Jennings.

Life and career[edit]

Wolf was born in the The Bronx, New York. Wolf's talent as a painter won him a grant to study at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. While a student there, he experienced a life-changing epiphany after jumping on stage to sing with a blues band at a loft party. He soon talked himself into membership in that band, The Hallucinations, whose members included Doug Slade, Joe Clark, Paul Shapiro, and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. They performed with the Velvet Underground, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, and John Lee Hooker. Wolf's natural loquaciousness secured him a job as an all-night DJ on the fledgling FM rock station WBCN. Adopting the persona of "the Woofa Goofa" (sometimes expanded to "the Woofa Goofa with the Green Teeth" as mentioned in the intro to the hit "Musta Got Lost" from the J. Geils Band's album Blow Your Face Out") Wolf spun raw rock 'n' roll and rhythm 'n' blues, channeling the spirit of the flashy, fast-talking DJs he'd grown up listening to. Wolf's encyclopedic musical knowledge came in handy when in 1968 he and some like-minded Boston players, John Geils, "Magic" Dick Salowitz and Danny Klein met one evening. Wolf and Stephen Joe Bladd were asked to join their band known as J. Geils Blues Band and with the addition of Seth Justman they became known as The J. Geils Band. The band soon became a local favorite injecting a much-needed jolt of raw, uninhibited rock 'n' roll into the '70s scene with much of their early repertoire drawn from Wolf's vast record collection. With Wolf acting as a sometime manager they were soon signed by Jerry Wexler to Atlantic Records. They earned a reputation as one of rock's most exciting live acts, thanks in large part to Wolf's charismatic hyperactive stage presence and his fast-talking quips. He and keyboard player, Seth Justman, were responsible for most of the songwriting between 1970 and 1983. The J. Geils Band released 13 influential albums, topping the pop single charts with 1981's “Freeze Frame,” “Love Stinks,” and "Centerfold,"

Creative differences followed their album "Freeze Frame" and Wolf was asked to leave The J. Geils Band in 1983.

After going solo with 1984's Lights Out, Wolf continued to stake out new musical territory with the subsequent releases Lights Out, Come As You Are, Up to No Good, Long Line, Fool's Parade, Sleepless and Midnight Souvenirs. His solo work has seen him collaborate with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Merle Haggard, John Lee Hooker, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett, Shelby Lynne and Neko Case. Wolf has reunited with his J. Geils Band cohorts for live shows on several occasions between 1999 and present day.

Solo work[edit]

Peter Wolf jumping (1982)

Wolf's first solo record, Lights Out (1984), was produced by Michael Jonzun, of the Jonzun Crew, and featured Adrian Belew. The eponymous single became a hit the same year, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Wolf has recorded numerous duets, with Aretha Franklin, Little Milton, John Lee Hooker, Don Covay, and Wilson Pickett, among others.

In 1985, Wolf appeared on the Artists United Against Apartheid project's song, "Sun City."

In 1987, Wolf released his next solo album, Come As You Are, with the title track notching Wolf not only another top-15 hit on the pop charts but also a number one hit on the Mainstream Rock Charts. A later single, "Can't Get Started", also became a sizable Mainstream Rock hit.

He continued to release albums in the following years. Fool's Parade and Sleepless (the latter featuring guest appearances from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), were both highly praised by Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone, receiving four-and-a-half and five stars, respectively. Sleepless (2002) was noted as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time in Rolling Stone issue 937.

The J. Geils Band reunited for a series of shows in 1999, including opening night at the Boston House of Blues.

Wolf standing at a microphone
Wolf speaking at the 2014 Laurence L. & Thomas Winship/PEN New England Award for Songwriting ceremony at Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Wolf's 2010 album Midnight Souvenirs won Album of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.[2][3]

On the album Midnight Souvenirs, Wolf performed duets with Shelby Lynne, Neko Case and Merle Haggard.

His eighth solo album, A Cure for Loneliness, was released in April 2016.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Wolf was married to actress Faye Dunaway from 1974[5] to 1979.[6][7][8]


List of albums, with selected details and chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales



Lights Out 24 17
Come As You Are 53 26
Up to No Good
  • Released: February 19, 1990
  • Label: MCA
111 46
Long Line
  • Released: May 14, 1996
  • Label: Reprise
Fool's Parade
  • Released: September 29, 1998
  • Label: Mercury
  • Released: September 10, 2002
  • Label: Artemis
Midnight Souvenirs
  • Released: April 6, 2010
  • Label: Verve
45 12
A Cure for Loneliness
  • Released: April 8, 2016
  • Label: Concord
144 18 5
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Year Song US Hot 100 US MSR US Dance Album
1984 "Lights Out" 12 - 11 Lights Out
1984 "I Need You Tonight" 36 22 -
1984 "Crazy" - 26 -
1985 "Oo-Ee-Diddley-Bop!" 61 -
1987 "Come as You Are" 15 1 49 Come as You Are
1987 "Can't Get Started" 75 16 -
1990 "99 Worlds" 77 9 - Up to No Good
1996 "Long Line" - - - Long Line
1998 "Turnin' Pages" - - - Fool's Parade


  1. ^ Skelly, Richard; Jurek, Thom. "Biography: Peter Wolf". AMG. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (December 7, 2010), "Peter Wolf, Amanda Palmer lead BMA winners", Boston Herald 
  3. ^ Perry, Jonathan (December 6, 2010), "Uke in hand, Palmer tops Music Awards", Boston Globe 
  4. ^ Horowitz, Hal (April 7, 2016), "Peter Wolf: A Cure for Loneliness", American Songwriter 
  5. ^ Lester, Peter (5 October 1981). "Dunaway Does Crawford". People. New York City. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Jews Who Rock Wiki." Admin. Published November 15, 2008. Accessed December 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "Jews in the News: Andrew Garfield, Jessica Chaffin and Leonard Cohen." Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. Published November 1, 2016.
  8. ^ Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories. Benarde, Scott R. Brandeis; 1st edition: July 1, 2003. Page 5. Accessed December 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "Peter Wolf - Chart history - Billboard 200". Billboard. 
  10. ^ "Peter Wolf - Chart history - Rock Albums". Billboard. 
  11. ^ "Peter Wolf - Chart history - Folk Albums". Billboard. 
  12. ^ "Peter Wolf - Chart history - Independent Albums". Billboard. 
  13. ^ "Swedish Charts > Peter Wolf". Hung Medien. 
  14. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. 

External links[edit]