Saturday, July 27, 2013

JJ Cale - 1939-2013

Just a few weeks ago I posted a little piece on JJ Cale, with a video of one of my favorite songs he wrote.  Tonight, I learn that JJ died of a heart attack Friday night, a quick ending that leaves me in shock.  AP music writer  Chris Talbot put it this way:
If musicians were measured not by the number of records they sold but by the number of peers they influenced, JJ Cale would have been a towering figure in 1970s rock 'n' roll.

His best songs like "After Midnight," ''Cocaine" and "Call Me the Breeze" were towering hits — for other artists. Eric Clapton took "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" and turned them into the kind of hard-party anthems that defined rock for a long period of time. And Lynyrd Skynyrd took the easy-shuffling "Breeze" and supercharged it with a three-guitar attack that made it a hit.
To expand on what I said back in May, even if you've never heard of him or never heard him play, you've absolutely heard his laid back style of blues, country, rock and Western swing that has been played by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more.  The list of artists that have performed his music includes Johnny Cash, Maria Muldaur, Neil Young, Tom Petty, The Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, and Waylon Jennings. I'm sure I've left others out.
Clapton once told Vanity Fair that Cale was the living person he most admired, and Cale weighed the impact Clapton had on his life in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press: "I'd probably be selling shoes today if it wasn't for Eric."

That quote was typical of the always humble Cale. But while Clapton was already a star when he began mining Cale's catalog, there's no doubt the music they shared cemented his "Clapton is God" status and defined the second half of his career.
Unusual among musicians, Cale wasn't about making himself stand out.  He never put his face on album covers.  He didn't care about being famous, and once quipped about "fame and fortune", "I'd like to have the fortune, but I don't care too much about the fame."  When asked if bothered him that there were millions who knew his music but didn't know anything about him said, "No, it doesn't bother me," he laughed. "What's really nice is when you get a check in the mail."

His website simply says: 
JJ Cale Has Passed Away
JJ Cale passed away at 8:00 pm on Friday July 26
at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA.
The legendary singer / songwriter had suffered a heart attack.
There are no immediate plans for services.
His history is well documented at,,
and in the documentary, To Tulsa And Back.
Donations are not needed but he was a great lover of animals so, if you like,
you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter.
And as a little tribute, a piece I've never seen before tonight, but that captures some of that JJ feel that makes the influence on Dire Straits, for one, seem so obvious.


  1. I don't think it would be possible to overstate his influence. He was also no slouch as a performer either.

    How sad. This is the first I have heard of his passing and wanted to thank you for posting about it.
    The world is a bit grayer place now.

  2. Tx SG for the obit.

    A light has gone out.



  3. Thanks for reminding us of one good, talented soul that has departed.