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John Weldon Cale[1] (December 5, 1938 – July 26, 2013), known as JJ Cale or J.J. Cale, was a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and musician. Cale was one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, a loose genre drawing on bluesrockabillycountry, and jazz influences. Cale's personal style has often been described as "laid back".

Songs written by Cale that have been covered by other musicians include "After Midnight" by Phish and "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton, "Clyde" by Waylon Jenningsand Dr. Hook, and "Call Me the Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer.

Life and career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Cale was born on December 5, 1938, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[1] He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1956. Along with a number of other young Tulsa musicians, Cale moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, where he first worked as a studio engineer.[2] Finding little success as a recording artist, he later returned to Tulsa and was considering giving up the music business until Clapton recorded Cale's "After Midnight" in 1970. His first album, Naturally, established his style, described by Los Angeles Times writer Richard Cromelin as a "unique hybrid of blues, folk and jazz, marked by relaxed grooves and Cale's fluid guitar and laconic vocals. His early use of drum machines and his unconventional mixes lend a distinctive and timeless quality to his work and set him apart from the pack of Americana roots-music purists."[3] In 2013 Neil Young remarked that of all the musicians he had ever heard, J.J. Cale and Jimi Hendrix were the two best electric guitar players.[4]

Some sources incorrectly give his real name as "Jean-Jacques Cale".[5] In the 2005 documentary, To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with J.J. Cale, Cale talks aboutElmer Valentine, co-owner of the Sunset Strip nightclub Whisky a Go Go, who employed him in the mid-1960s, being the one that came up with the "JJ" moniker to avoid confusion with the Velvet Underground's John CaleRocky Frisco tells the same version of the story mentioning the other John Cale but without further detail.[6]

In this 2005 documentary J.J. Cale`s style is also characterized by Eric Clapton as "...really, really minimal..." and he states precisely: "...it`s all about finesse".

His biggest U.S. hit single, "Crazy Mama", peaked at #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972. In the 2005 documentary film To Tulsa and Back Cale recounts the story of being offered the opportunity to appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand to promote the song, which would have moved it higher on the charts. Cale declined when told he could not bring his band to the taping and would be required to lip-sync the words.[7]

Cale often acted as his own producer, engineer and session player. His vocals, sometimes whispery would be buried in the mix. He attributed his unique sound to being a recording mixer and engineer, saying; "Because of all the technology now you can make music yourself and a lot of people are doing that now. I started out doing that a long time ago and I found when I did that I came up with a unique sound."[8]

The details of Cale's personal life remain sketchy, although he was described as "reclusive" and, by 2001, described himself as "semi-retired".[9]

Death[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Cale died on July 26, 2013, at the age of 74, at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California, after a heart attack at 8:00 PM.[10][11][12]

Covers[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Songs written by Cale that have been covered by other musicians include "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton, "Clyde" by Dr. Hook and Waylon Jennings, "Call Me the Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Ride Me High" and "Travelin' Light" by Widespread Panic, "Bringing It Back" by Kansas, and "Magnolia" by {{Poco}].

In 1974 Captain Beefheart covered the song "Same Old Blues" on his album Bluejeans & Moonbeams.

The 1992 track "Run" on Spiritualized's debut album, Lazer Guided Melodies, is essentially a cover of Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" with some additional lyrics. Cale is given songwriting credit on the album.

As well as covering "After Midnight" on his self-titled debut album in 1970 and "Cocaine" on Slowhand in 1977, Eric Clapton covered Cale's "I'll Make Love To You Anytime" on his 1978 album Backless. Other Clapton covers of Cale originals include "Travelin' Light" on his 2001 album Reptile, "River Runs Deep" and "Everything Will Be Alright" on his 2010 self-titled album Clapton, and "Angel" on his 2013 album Old Sock.

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Source: [13]

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 1958 "Shock Hop"/"Sneaky" (as Johnny Cale)[14]
  • 1960 "Troubles, Troubles"/"Purple Onion" (as Johnny Cale Quintet)[14]
  • 1961 "Ain't That Lovin You Baby"/"She's My Desire" (as Johnny Cale Quintet)[14]
  • 1965 "It's A Go Go Place"/"Dick Tracy", Liberty 55840
  • 1966 "In Our Time"/"Outside Looking In", Liberty 55881
  • 1966 "After Midnight"/"Slow Motion", Liberty 55931
  • 1971 "Crazy Mama", Shelter 7314 (from the album Naturally, peaked at #22 on the US single charts on April 8, 1972, and #21 in Canada on April 15)
  • 1972 "Lies"/"Riding Home", Shelter 7326
  • 1979 "Katy Kool Lady"/"Juarez Blues", Shelter WIP 6521

Studio & live albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Albums featuring J.J. Cale[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Compilations[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 1984 Special Edition (a compilation of hits from previous albums)
  • 1997 Anyway the Wind Blows: The Anthology
  • 1998 The Very Best of J.J. Cale
  • 2000 Universal Masters Collection
  • 2003 After Midnight (German release)
  • 2006 The Definitive Collection
  • 2006 Collected (with bonus tracks, Dutch release only)
  • 2007 Rewind: The Unreleased Recordings
  • 2011 The Silvertone Years (a collection chronicling Cale's music released by Silvertone 1989–1992)

Videos[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 1979 In Session At The Paradise Studios - Los Angeles, J.J.Cale featuring Leon Russell
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