Growing up just 35 miles south of Tulsa I got to hear a lot of local musicians before they became famous. Leon Russell, Davis Gates, and J.J. Cale come to mind. You know Davis Gates from later fame with Bread, Leon Russell is a well known legendary performer, but J.J. Cale is also a Tulsa musician who made an impact on the national level.
Eric Clapton’s first solo hit ‘After Midnight’ was written by J.J. Cale. So was ‘Cocaine’. J.J. had his own hit ‘Crazy Mama’ in 1972. And in addition to Clapton, his music and songs have influenced and been recorded by such diverse artists as Lynyrd skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Carlos Santana, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Chet Atkins, Jerry Garcia, Cissy Houston, and Brian Ferry.
You probably wouldn’t recognize J.J. Cale if you’d seen him walking down the street as few of his album covers had his picture on them. And as he once said “There are entertainers and there are musicians, and I never was an entertainer’.
Yeah, but he was a hell of a songwriter.
J.J. Cale died of a heart attack suffered Friday in La Jolla, California.
He was 74.