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J.J. Cale

With his laid-back rootsy style, J.J. Cale was best known for writing "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," songs that Eric Clapton later made into hits. But Cale's influence wasn't only through songwriting -- his distinctly loping sense of rhythm and shuffling boogie became the blueprint for the adult-oriented roots rock of Clapton and Mark Knopfler, among others. Cale's refusal to vary the sound of his music over the course of his career caused some critics to label him as a one-trick pony, but he managed to build a dedicated cult following with his sporadically released recordings.

Born in Oklahoma City but raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cale played in a variety of rock & roll bands and Western swing groups as a teenager, including one outfit that also featured Leon Russell. In 1959, at the age of 21, he moved to Nashville, where he was hired by the Grand Ole Opry's touring company. After a few years, he returned to Tulsa, where he reunited with Russell and began playing local clubs. In 1964, Cale and Russell moved to Los Angeles with another local Oklahoma musician, Carl Radle.

Shortly after he arrived in Los Angeles, Cale began playing with Delaney & Bonnie. He only played with the duo for a brief time, beginning a solo career in 1965. That year, he cut the first version of "After Midnight," which would become his most famous song. Around 1966, Cale formed the Leathercoated Minds with songwriter Roger Tillison. The group released a psychedelic album called A Trip Down Sunset Strip the same year.

Deciding that he wouldn't be able to forge a career in Los Angeles, Cale returned to Tulsa in 1967. Upon his return, he set about playing local clubs. Within a year, he had recorded a set of demos. Radle obtained a copy of the demos and forwarded it to Denny Cordell, who was founding a record label called Shelter with Leon Russell. Shelter signed Cale in 1969. The following year, Eric Clapton recorded "After Midnight," taking it to the American Top 20 and thereby providing Cale with needed exposure and royalties. In December 1971, Cale released his debut album, Naturally, on Shelter Records; the album featured the Top 40 hit "Crazy Mama," as well as a re-recorded version of "After Midnight," which nearly reached the Top 40, and "Call Me the Breeze," which Lynyrd Skynyrd later covered. Cale followed Naturally with Really, which featured the minor hit "Lies," later that same year.

Following the release of Really, J.J. Cale adopted a slow work schedule, releasing an album every other year or so. Okie, his third album, appeared in 1974. Two years later, he released Troubadour, which yielded "Hey Baby," his last minor hit, as well as the original version of "Cocaine," a song that Clapton would later cover. By this point, Cale had settled into a comfortable career as a cult artist and he rarely made any attempt to break into the mainstream. One more album on Shelter Records, 5, appeared in 1979 and then he switched labels, signing with MCA in 1981. MCA only released one album (1981's Shades) and Cale moved to Mercury Records the following year, releasing Grasshopper.

In 1983, Cale released his eighth album, 8. The album became his first not to chart. Following its release, Cale left Mercury and entered a long period of seclusion, reappearing in late 1990 with Travel Log, which was released on the British independent label Silvertone; the album appeared in America the following year. 10 was released in 1992. The album failed to chart, but it re-established his power as a cult artist. He moved to the major label Virgin in 1994, releasing Close to You the same year. It was followed by Guitar Man in 1996.

Cale returned to recording in 2003, releasing To Tulsa and Back in 2004 on the Sanctuary label and The Road to Escondido, a collaborative effort with Clapton, in 2006 on Reprise. Roll On appeared in 2009 on Rounder Records. A CD/DVD set drawn from sessions Cale recorded with Leon Russell on keyboards in 1979, In Session at Paradise Studio, appeared early in 2013. In July of that year, Cale died of a heart attack in a hospital in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California; he was 74 years old. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Roll On

1. Who Knew

2. Former Me

3. Where The Sun Don't Shine

4. Down To Memphis

5. Strange Days

6. Cherry Street

7. Fonda-Lina

8. Leaving In The Morning

9. Oh Mary

10. Old Friend

11. Roll On

12. Bring Down The Curtain

x

Track List: Rewind: The Unreleased Recordings

1. Guess I Lose

2. Waymore's Blues

3. Rollin"

4. Golden Ring

5. My Cricket

6. Ever Since You Said Goodbye

7. Seven Day Woman

8. Bluebird

9. My Baby And Me

10. Lawdy Mama

11. Blue Sunday

12. Out Of Style

13. Ooh La La

14. All Mama's Children

x

Track List: To Tulsa And Back

1. My Gal

2. Chains Of Love

3. New Lover

4. One Step

5. Stone River

6. The Problem

7. Homeless

8. Fancy Dancer

9. Rio

10. These Blues

11. Motormouth

12. Blues For Mama

13. Another Song

x

Track List: Travel-Log

1. Shanghaid

2. Hold On Baby

3. No Time

4. Lady Luck

5. Disadvantage

6. Lean On Me

7. End Of The Line

8. New Orleans

9. Tijuana

10. That Kind Of Thing

11. Who's Talking

12. Change Your Mind

13. Humdinger

14. River Boat Song

x

Track List: Grasshopper

1. City Girls

2. Devil In Disguise

3. One Step Ahead Of The Blues

4. You Keep Me Hangin' On

5. Downtown L.A.

6. Can't Live Here

7. Grasshopper

8. Drifters Wife

9. Don't Wait

10. A Thing Going On

11. Nobody But You

12. Mississippi River

13. Does Your Mama Like To Reggae

14. Dr. Jive

x

Track List: Shades

1. Carry On

2. Deep Dark Dungeon

3. Wish I Had Not Said That

4. Pack My Jack

5. If You Leave Her

6. Mama Don't

7. Runaround

8. What Do You Expect

9. Love Has Been Gone

10. Cloudy Day

x

Track List: 5

1. Thirteen Days

2. Boilin' Pot

3. I'll Make Love To You

4. Don't Cry Sister

5. Too Much For Me

6. Sensitive Kind

7. Friday

8. Easy-Ann

9. Let's Go To Tahiti

10. Kathy Cool Lady

11. Fate Of A Fool

12. Mona

x

Track List: Troubadour

1. Hey Baby

2. Travelin' Light

3. You Got Something

4. Ride Me High

5. Hold On

6. Cocaine

7. I'm A Gypsy Man

8. The Woman That Got Away

9. Super Blue

10. Let Me Do It To You

11. Cherry

12. You Got Me On So Bad

x

Track List: Okie

1. Crying

4. Rock and Roll Records

6. Everlovin' Woman

7. Cajun Moon

9. Anyway the Wind Blows

12. I Got the Same Old Blues

x

Track List: Naturally

1. Call Me The Breeze

2. Call The Doctor

3. Don't Go To Strangers

4. Woman I Love

5. Magnolia

6. Clyde

7. Crazy Mama

8. Nowhere To Run

9. After Midnight

10. River Runs Deep

11. Bringing It Back

12. Crying Eyes

Comments

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great artist, loved his sailing songs, from an old sailor stuck on the dirt/ hard
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steveandlaur a 7 1 8 9
great lyric
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I'm just learning about his incredible influence on the great rock and alt. country musicians. Amazing humility and talent. Sad about his departure, but may he RIP.
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Clyde is my favorite
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Magnolia is a classic
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who canot love this guy should have had a spot in idaho just git a chance my assos's want to know 'where you find this guy'' thank u my brothers just back d nam 68 so much miss since then'' 'praise the lord' my bro's home me w/ enlightenmen t thank you J.J.
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I got to meet him when i worked at guitar center in San Marcos with Johnny B. Nobody ever knew or recognized him and who he was and all his talents.
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In the late 90's a friend turned me onto his music. Have been a fan ever since. I was sad to hear of his passing.
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A thing one his estilo to play guitar is the note from the sky noise ..to fly
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Thank goodness we still have his music is what I should have said.
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Umm Cheryl, he's not still making music. He died in 2013 unfortunatel y
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Have loved J. J. since the 70s. He's super, and I'm glad he's still making music!!
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Amazing songwriter and musician.
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R.I.P. J.J.....Jay
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The all time best...
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Listening to JJ Cale you understand why so many followed his lead and covered his songs. His groove is unmistakable !
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RIP! JJ has been my traveling companion for many a miles. His tunes carry my heart & soul down many roads coast to coast. His music will live forever! Thanks JJ
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saw him in small clubs 3 times major talent...rip
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Such a classic
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There's that deep dark sexy thing that always waits for you in his voice.
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JJ was off the chains...kin d a like Elvis....awe s o m e craftsmanshi p
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laaiiiid baaaaaccck.. .
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Tulsa Time! JJ Cale's music makes me want to get in the car and head cross country. Mmm hmmm.
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you gotta love jj cale
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timsfirst
Noooo. There is no one equal to his taste and style. Eric, Mark, Lyle, John and anyone else who can, please carry on. I'm going to miss such a talent. Always looked forward to his next. Looking forward to hearing you, JJ and other such greats in the GREAT BEYOND. LIVE.
Report as inappropriate
I've loved JJ since I first heard "Naturally" in 1972 while in Denmark. Bought it as soon as I got home. I admired his refusal to conform to the "norm". He was a leader, not a follower. RIP JJ, you will be missed
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:-(
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Music I have always loved. No one writes or plays like that anymore. He will be remembered.
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Low key, unpretentiou s and an original. Rest in Peace, Mr. Cale.
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Hey Jay not to defend Clapton but get it right dude. Clapton was JJs biggest fan. Check out the new tribute album.
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fisherk34
I agree there are lots of JJ rip offs. But none of them have the soul like him! I wish I had seen him just once!
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foleygovtaff a i r s
Long love on in his music the founder of true Okie Boogie - JJ Cale
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Sad he won't be hiding out in Valley Center anymore. He shall be missed! But we can still listen to these gems he left as a trail.
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Naaa....tell me he aint gone!
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OH WOW just found out he's gone.
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One of the greats. Always remembered. Left a great lagacy to the world. Magic. RIP JJ
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GREAT MAN GREAT MUSIC,NEVER TO BE REPLACED.NOW PLAYING WITH ALL THE PAST GREATS IN WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST BAND OF ALL TIME.
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GREATMAN GREAT MUSIS WILL NEVER BE REPLACED.YOU ARE NOW WITH THE GREATEST BAND IN THE UNIVERSE.
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I dated this nurse a few months ago that works in a cardiac ward. She said she nursed some famous musician that died there last year. Yep - turns out it was JJ Cale and she didn't even know who he was. When I explained it to her and told her some of his songs she kinda got it. She thought he was just some old rancher. I just shook my head....
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kvons1
The late--great JJ RIP: JJ
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Descansa en paz, JJ.
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castle_chris
Saw this great one several years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan with my ex-wife in a little hideaway club. Just JJ guitar and little amp
Simply fantastic RIP
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mzebari
RIP JJ
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jaynann304
J.J. Cale don't NEED no stinkin' copiers. Why the debate about who's the best?? Rubbish. Mr. Cale was mellow, an original who refused to cow-tow to the music industry for filthy lucre. He pleases me.....his station on my Pandora is one of my absolute favorites. And Eric Clapton can take his lame, watered-down , white-assed blues elsewhere.
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kvons1
Truly sad loss of another great and unique talent. RIP: J. J. --always liked your stuff.
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jmeyers95
Only discovered JJ Cale's music a couple of years ago but he's clearly a great one who never got his due. I hope that many more will discover his genius in the years to come.
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andylange1
A few years ago, I was hired by JJ to ship some stuff for him. When we got to his storage unit, it was all of his ORIGINAL master recordings on tape - 100's of them, including 'Cocaine', 'After Midnight', etc. After discussing the charges, the kid that was helping me asked for his payment to be in the form of one of the many, many guitars in the storage unit. John grabbed one, signed it and had his picture taken with my employee and his new guitar (the value was $1000+). A true class act!
Report as inappropriate
Had many a beer while traveling many a back country road listening to JJ and digging his loping rhythms. RIP pard.
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presleylafou n t a i n
TRAVELED MANY OLD DIRT ROADS LISTENING TO THE BREEZE ,WILL MISS HIS GENIUS FROM THE HEART
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keshs
RIP, JJ
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