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Centerfold

by

J. Geils Band



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is about a guy who had a crush on a sweet, innocent girl in his homeroom in high school. Years later, he's looking through a girly magazine and sees his homeroom crush as the centerfold. (thanks, Nick - Trenton, NJ)
The J. Geils Band signed with Atlantic Records in 1970 and made a name for themselves as a great live act with a Blues-based sound. "Centerfold" was a musical departure for the band - a New Wave sound similar to what The Cars and The Police were doing. It was also their biggest hit, earning them a slot touring with The Rolling Stones, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and heavy rotation on the new cable network MTV with a video showing the band playing in a classroom surrounded by girls in Catholic school uniforms.
This was written by the band's keyboard player Seth Justman, who wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on the Freeze Frame album. He insists that the reason you didn't hear much synthesizer on earlier J. Geils albums is because they couldn't afford them. The band was trapped in the record company debt cycle, constantly owing money despite their success.
J. Geils Band
J. Geils Band Artistfacts
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Comments (26):

No, that's not Martha Quinn you guys in the video.
- Darren, Hampton, GA, GA
Anybody know the name of the blond girl, who is the second girl in the row when the girls come marching in carrying their books, also she shows up in the still shot of the video at the top of this page? She reminds me of someone I once knew.
- Will, Richmond, VA
I know one of the girls in the video- she is the 3rd one in line as they first come out and you get a good shot of her smile near the end of the video when you see the girls stroll in the white outfits-( 3rd in line again) she has shoulder length brown hair - I knew her sister well - we were good friends back in the late 70's & early 80's . The girl's name was Jill Priest . a sweetheart...
- Rose, Boston, MA
I've searched everywhere for a Peter Wolf interview/explanation for the inspiration behind the lyrics to this song. I have found nothing. I have heard many stories over the years, but no way to verify anything unless it comes from the author himself. Who was the main character female "centerfold" who inspired this song?

One rumor had it being the 80's pornstar "Angel", however after much internet research they had her growing up in Michigan as a young girl named Laurie. Wolf grew up in Boston, so no way he could have known her in high school. Still, she sure fits the description of a sweet innocent "homeroom angel" who you would never think would ever get into porn.
- Robert, Detroit, MI
if there was a Songfacts category titled "Songs That would've Gone Great on The Soundtracks For Movies Whose Overall Plot Matches the Story Behind The Song" i DEFINITELY would've put this song in that category, because the whole thing about "my blood runs cold/my memory has just been sold/my angel is a centerfold" makes me think of the scene out of the movie "Miss March" where the guy flips through the copy of Playboy he'd just gotten in the mail to find that the girl whom his best friend dated back in high school is the Playmate of the Month or whatever they call them, and goes and tells his best friend about it.
- charlie, las vegas, NV
Peter Wolfe claimed to have slept with most of the women in the video. J. Geils is actually the name of the guitarist. Although the J. Geils band were a blues band before this song, they were mostly discovered when they supported the Stones on their "Still Life" tour. Others who got their big break on that tour included George Thorogood and Prince.
- Danny, Your Town, IA
Hey I have some interesting info regarding the J. Geils Band. I am from Massachusetts a state very close to Rhode Island. I used to go to a club Friday and Saturday nights years ago...and I mean YEARS ago! I went particularly to see both or either of 2 great bands. One was called the Hallucinations. They were a predominately white band...that played great blues songs. If I can remember the lineup...Peter Wolf, Doug Slade, Shante(?), Stephen Bladd, Paul Shapiro and a cute blonde drummer whose name escapes me now...maybe it was Steven Clark but don't quote me on the first name. It got to the point that my sister and myself would show up early and wait for the band(s) and help them carry their equipment in. We kind of helped set up a couple of times and always stayed to help tear down after the shows. We spent most of the breaks with the band or bands depending on which one played that night. Peter invited us to a party in Boston once. We got lost as we were not familiar with Boston. These were really nice people..I enjoyed them anyway. We used to take pictures in the parking lot after the shows and develop them on the the headlights of whichever band member drove to the venue. I would still have these photos if not for the traveling back and forth from Mass. to Ca. We treated this guys like they were the Beatles...lol. I have to mention the other band just because. But before I do, I have to say that these guys introduced me to music from the Mothers of Invention, songs like Spoonful, The Hunter and others I can no longer recall.Anyway, the other band was the Cloud. Another predominantly white band that played blues. Doug Grossman, Walter Bjorkman (the love of my life), Rick Metzinger, Jim Thompson and Victor McGill on drums. I don't recall the last time I saw the Hallucinations but I remember exactly the last time I saw the Cloud. It was a bitter sweet good-bye. Most of these guys were music and/or art students in Boston. As for J. Geils? I paid 50cents to see them in an upstairs coffee house in Providence RI. I think the name of it was the Rubicon. The venue was too small for the amps. It was LOUD!
- Valerie, Eureka, CA
Theres another dancer in the video in the classroom behind the desks shes in the first row to the right of the martha quinn lookalike, I've tried to find out who she is because I've seen her in a few other movies dancing like The B
est Little Whorehouse in Texas, she the short one with the short straight brown hair.
- Jasmine, Omaha, NE
This song is typical of the period.They tried hard in the early 80s to get away from disco and homosexuality.They succeeded!A good song that you cannot dance with.I like it.Yes AIDS was discovered a year or two later.
- john, Brisbane, United States
The girls were from a local dance studio. They are all attractive, but in a natural way, without that 'trampy' look. I love them dancing around in babydolls!
- Chuck, Clinton Twp, MI
I have one thing to say about J. Geils. Magic Dick. The best blues harp player in the buisiness.
- Thomas, Somerville, AL
i remember the big controversy over whether or not Martha Quinn was in the video.
- jane, austin, TX
The J Geils Band had a great blues band and career before they hit it in the pop cicuit with this song and Freeze Frame, etc. I'm pretty sure this song was one of the first used as a video vehicle specifically for MTV as this network was new at the time of the song's release. The blues/rock played by the band before all this was awesome. J.Geils was a great blues guitarist, Danny Klein on bass, Peter Wolf vocals, Seth Justman organist, Stephen Jo Bladd drummer and Magic Dick on Harmonica. A great concert band nicknamed the "Jewish Stones". Once in concert at the old Boston Garden they had a full marching band march onto the stage to start the show.
- ticketred, Walpole, MA
Martha Quinn was NOT in the video. The girl that sort of looks like Martha is named Kristen Riter. She played the character of Toby in the movie student bodies. Oddly enough, she seems to have disappeared from acting after this video.
- Sue, Philadelphia, PA
I remember the frontman on the teacher's desk and the girls in catholic uniforms even cheerleader uniforms.
- Jennifer Harris, Grand Blanc, MI
I loved this music video as a child! I wish I could've put it on vhs. If I can get VH-1 classic.I can put it on dvr. I didn't know Martha Quinn had a twin sister.someone from I Love the 80s said it was Martha Quinn in the video,but Adam? Hunter said that it wasn't.
- Jennifer Harris, Grand Blanc, MI
Awesome song. My favorite J. Geils song is "Musta Got Lost" w/ the intro. Songfacts should put up more of their songs.
- Scott, Boston, MA
Even though I sometimes get the "na-na-na-na-na-na" part mixed up with the Smurfs theme, this song is a highlight for me personally and for the entire decade's musical catalogue. The band's frontman, Peter Wolf, was tailor-made for the 1980s with his Mick Jagger swagger and exuberance, even though he had paid his dues before the band went pop. That's why the group reached its highest level of success during the 1980s, and this tune's memorable playfulness is a big reason why.
- Bertrand, Paris, France
In the early 80's J. Geils catchy new-wave pop finally caught up to the times and they got several big hits.
- Scott, Palm Desert, CA
I think one of the dancers in the schoolroom scene may have been MTV VJ Martha Quinn, if it wasn't her it was her twin!
- silverado, Green Bay, WI
Peter Wolf said the girls are dancers from the Boston Area. Info on 'I Love You 80s'
- Britt Jake, Newport, NH
the girls in the clip are from playboy or something like that
- stacey, someplace, Australia
Although this was their only song that did well in the UK, The J. Geils' Band had several big hits in the US besides "Centerfold". Their other Stateside hits included "Love Stinks", "Freeze Frame", "Flame Thrower", "Land Of 1,000 Dances", and "Rage In The Cage".
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
i think this song is basicaly he sees his highschool crush in a magazine and hes suprised because he rembers her. he realizez she 'sold' her body to magazines. old memories about her come back to him. then he sais 'its ok, i understand, this aint no never never land' meaning he knows thigs cahnge. he sais he hopes to see her when her clothes are on. then he thinks about hooking up with her all these years later......its not a bad song....
- jac, boulder, CO
This was used in the UK as a kind of "End of Term" anthem in the early 80s... This was their biggest hit in their native America although they had a number of major US singles chart successes between their formation in 1967 and 1985, when they split up, but in early 1982, it became their only big hit in Britain. Model and actor Adam Austin released an unsuccessful cover version in 1999
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
"My memory has just been sold" I imagine refers to the girl selling her body to the magazine for money.
- Mark, Lakewood, OH
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