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Lone Rocker Wolf Would Prefer to Howl With a Pack

November 29, 1990|ANNE M. PETERSON | ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON — More than two decades in the music business as a disc jockey and a performer have given Peter Wolf a certain maturity. Sort of.

"I tend to wear longer socks now," he jokes. "And I look both ways before I cross the street."

But seriously, the former J. Geils Band front man has been struggling since the 1983 breakup of the group to strike out on his own.

His most-recent solo album, "Up to No Good," was a critical success but did not sell well.

Now he's planning a tour to show people he's still around.

"I haven't done it in eight years," Wolf said. "The Beatles were together and broke up in less time than that. In rock 'n' roll, it's a millennium."

Wolf said he's still bitter about the breakup but added it hasn't crushed his spirit.

"I became a soloist, really not by choice. But it was the only way, a necessity, to keep on rock 'n' rollin'--because I loved the band and I really would have liked to see the band stay together," he said.

"It was like someone who would have liked to see their marriage stay together, but there just wasn't any reason to hang in there."

Wolf looks unchanged after years of musical mayhem. The hair may be shorter, but Wolf, 42, remains painfully thin, adorned with eye liner and dressed completely in black. His wit still is sharp.

Wolf grew up in the Bronx. His father was an entertainer, his mother a political activist, and the eclectic home life gave him inspiration to be an artist. So he relocated to Boston in his early 20s to pursue painting.

But art fell by the wayside when Wolf became the overnight disc jockey at Boston's WBCN-FM and caught the music bug. It was there that he met fellow musician Van Morrison.

"Van used to live in Cambridge, and he used to listen, and that's how we became friends. He used to come by, and we ended up doing gigs together," Wolf said.

In 1967, the J. Geils Band was born, taking its name from the lead guitarist.

Wolf said he still prefers the group atmosphere, rather than taking the risky solo route.

"I really enjoy being in a band. I enjoy the responsibility. I enjoy sharing things. I enjoy the collaborative sense of it," he said.

"It's a lot tougher being a soloist. There's a lot more demands. All the focus is on one individual. I'm still not used to that."

Wolf said he's confident that on the tour he can live up to the stage persona he had with J. Geils.

"No one questions Frank Sinatra, who started out as a bobby-socks idol. No one says, 'Can he still be singing "Witchcraft" when he's 67?' Obviously he can because he's in his 70s and still doing concerts," Wolf said.

But Wolf adds that he doesn't have plans to mellow. "I don't think I'm going to be Perry Como in a sweater, holding a pipe."

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