Who Wrote “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band?

Peeling open the pages of “Centerfold” will reveal a rock and roll peep show of shrill keys, roaring guitar, and snappy drum hits. The heart-racing, palm-sweating, and dizzying display is sure to make any listener’s blood run cold.

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The J. Geils Band’s 1981 classic is both naughty and innocent, desirous and delicate. It is a complex listen born from the age-old theme of innocent crush-turned-unrequited love.

Who Wrote It?

“Centerfold” was an inside job, written by the J. Geils Band’s keyboard player Seth Justman. In fact, Justman wrote, or co-wrote, all the songs on the band’s highly acclaimed 1981 album, Freeze Frame.

The first single released from the album, “Centerfold” ruled the No. 1 spot on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart for six weeks. Its music video was also in heavy rotation on MTV, something that helped propel the song up the charts upon its release.

“Centerfold” was unique in the fact that it was a family affair. The song’s iconic music video was directed by Paul Justman, the songwriter’s brother. Much like his brother’s contributions to the album, Paul’s direction didn’t end there. He also had a hand in the band’s music video for the record’s title track. Together, the brothers crafted audio-visual masterpieces with the songs on Freeze Frame, but especially with “Centerfold.”

Check out the homeroom-centered music video below.

After “Centerfold”

It wouldn’t be until “Centerfold” that the band reached mainstream success. The group formed in 1967, but the 1981 song proved to be the catalyst for their fame. They were catapulted into the spotlight upon its release after well over a decade of existing in the shadows.

The release of “Centerfold” marked a distinct shift in the band’s sound. The song was a departure from their blues-rock sensibilities and an arrival into the new-wave pop that garnered them much acclaim. The band has been associated with a handful of their other hits from around the same time, like “Freeze Frame” and the 1980 bop “Love Stinks,” but few successes as notable as “Centerfold” have followed.

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

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