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JJ Cale Biography

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Birth Name: John W. Cale
Born: 1938/12/05
Birth Place: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Years Active: 1958–present
Genres: Americana, Cajun, Blues, Swamp Rock, Red Dirt, The Tulsa Sound

J.J. Cale (born John Weldon Cale, December 5, 1938 – July 26, 2013) 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 blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz influences. Songs written by Cale that have been covered by other musicians include “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton, “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook, and “Call Me the Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Cale 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. 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.

Cale’s first album, 1972’s “Naturally,” featuring 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. His biggest U.S. hit single, “Crazy Mama,” peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in 1972.

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 “After Midnight” and “Ain’t Love Funny” by Phish and “Bringing It Back” by Kansas. 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 was given songwriting credit on the album.

As well as, “After Midnight,” in 1970 and, “Cocaine,” in 1977, Clapton covered Cale's song, “Travelin' Light,” on his 2001 album, “Reptile.” Clapton also covered, “I'll Make Love To You Anytime,” on his 1978 album, “Backless.” In addition, Clapton covered, “River Runs Deep,” on his 2010 self-titled album, “Clapton,” and, “Angel,” on his 2013 album “Old Sock.” 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.

Cale after suffering a heart attack, died on July 26, 2013, at the age of 74.