Sad news this afternoon, with the announcement that the great JJ Cale has died.
According to a statement on www.jjcale.com, the singer-songwriter suffered a heart attack and died at 8pm last night (Pacific time) in Scripps Hospital, La Jolla, California. He was 74. “Donations are not needed,” the statement continued, “but he was a great lover of animals so, if you like, donations can be made to your favorite local animal shelter.”
Born John Weldon Cale in Oklahoma City, and raised in Tulsa, Cale’s career was inexorably connected with that of Eric Clapton: it was Clapton who recorded one of Cale’s early songs, “After Midnight”, raising his profile and allowing him to embark on a solo career that encompassed 14 solo albums (the last, “Roll On”, was released in 2009). Cale continued to work with Clapton up to this year’s “Old Sock” album, the latter also covering perhaps his most famous song, “Cocaine”. Other notable versions of his songs included Spiritualized’s take on “Call Me The Breeze”.
Cale’s trademark Tulsa sound was a kind of mellow boogie, a laidback interpretation of the blues that was further enhanced – especially on his 1972 debut, “Naturally” – by an irreverent approach to roots music, where his gently noodling guitar lines would be underpinned by a prototype drum machine.
In the press biography for “Roll On”, Cale was asked whether it bothered him, “that contemporaries and critics list him amongst legends, and fans might love his songs yet not even know his name?”
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” he replied, laughing. “What’s really nice is when you get a cheque in the mail.”
JJ Cale opened an aptly-named Twitter account, @SlowerBaby, in 2009. He posted, however, one solitary tweet: “I make rock n roll records.”