Peter Wolf (born Peter W. 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 and for a successful solo career with writing partner Will Jennings. Wolf married the actress Faye Dunaway in 1974. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979.
Life and career
Wolf was born in the Bronx, New York. He planned a career as an artist, but he got a job in the late 1960s as a disc jockey on Boston FM radio station WBCN and began exploring his interest in blues and rhythm and blues music, giving himself the nickname "the Wolfa Goofa", sometimes expanded to "the Wolfa Goofa with the Green Teeth" (as mentioned in the intro to the minor hit "Musta Got Lost", from the J. Geils Band's album Blow Your Face Out). For a brief period in Boston in the late '60s, Wolf roomed with director David Lynch, who eventually kicked him out for not paying rent. Later, as a solo artist, he called himself "Woofa Goofa Mama Toofa". Wolf, Doug Slade, Joe Clark, Paul Shapiro, and Stephen Jo Bladd formed a group, the Hallucinations, which performed with the Velvet Underground, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker, and Sun Ra. He then saw the J. Geils Blues Band in concert and quickly joined in 1967. He was the vocalist and frontman and often acted as a sort of manager for the group. Wolf was known for his charismatic stage antics of fast-talking quips and "pole-vaulting" with the microphone stand. He and keyboard player Seth Justman were responsible for most of the songwriting. Creative differences followed their album Freeze Frame, causing Wolf to part ways with the J. Geils Band in 1983.
Wolf became a solo artist for the next 15 years. In 1999 the J. Geils Band reunited for several appearances, with Wolf resuming his duties as lead vocalist. They separated again, and Wolf began touring as a solo act once more.
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 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. He briefly reunited with the J. Geils Band and then returned to a solo career in the early 2000s. His album Long Line (1996) was co-produced with two musician friends, Johnny A. and Stu Kimball, a member of Bob Dylan's backup band member. Tim Archibald (bass) and Brian Maes (keyboardss and backing vocals), who are both members of "Ernie and the Automatics", played on the record and toured in support of it. Wolf's next two solo albums, 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. Wolf has performed on stage with such diverse people as Bruce Springsteen and Phil Lesh.
Wolf toured in 2008 with Kid Rock and Rev. Run on the Rock 'n' Roll Revival tour. He performed "Love Stinks" with Kid Rock's band. Then he joined Kid Rock for "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Must Of Got Lost", "Centerfold" (from the J. Geils album Freeze Frame) and "For What It's Worth".
The J. Geils Band reunited for a series of shows in 2009, including opening night at the Boston House of Blues.
On August 14, 2010, the J. Geils Band teamed up with Aerosmith for a concert at Boston's Fenway Park. The following week, on August 21, the J. Geils Band performed at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan.
Wolf's 2010 album Midnight Souvenirs won Album of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.
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.
Wolf was married to actress Faye Dunaway from 1974 to 1979.