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JJ Cale Dies at 74

JJ Cale, Jane Richey

JJ Cale, the laid-back singer-songwriter who penned two of Eric Clapton‘s biggest hits, ‘After Midnight’ and ‘Cocaione,’ passed away on Friday night (July 26) at the age of 74. The news was made public on his website.

Cale’s music was a mixture of blues, country, folk and jazz, all wrapped up in a boggie shuffle and performed as if there was all the time in the world. The style became known as the “Tulsa Sound,” after Cale’s hometown.

The statement on his website read as follows:

JJ Cale passed away at 8:00 pm on Friday July 26 at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA. The legendary singer / songwriter had suffered a heart attack. There are no immediate plans for services.

His history is well documented at,, and in the documentary, ‘To Tulsa and Back.’

Donations are not needed 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 1938, the Oklahoma native moved to Los Angeles in the early-’60s, working as a studio engineer. He released a few singles, none of which met with much success, which caused him to quit the music business and return to Tulsa. But his 1966 single on Liberty, ‘After Midnight,’ found its way to Clapton during his time with Delany & Bonnie, and he recorded it on his 1970 solo debut, taking it to No. 18.

The hit spawned interest in Cale, who signed with Shelter Records, run by his fellow Oklahoman and old friend Leon Russell. His debut, 1971’s ‘Naturally,’ gave him a No. 22 hit with ‘Crazy Mama,’ and a re-recorded version of ‘After Midnight’ just missed the Top 40. Two other songs from ‘Naturally,’ ‘Call Me the Breeze’ and ‘Clyde,’ were recorded by, respectively, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Waylon Jennings. Skynyrd also covered ‘I Got the Same Old Blues Again’ on 1976’s ‘Gimme Back My Bullets.’

Cale continued to write record throughout the rest of his life, with his last album, ‘Roll On,’ coming in 2009. Although his subsequent albums didn’t chart, his songs continued to be covered by a wide variety of artists, including Kansas, Widespread Panic, Captain Beefheart, Carlos Santana and jazz singer Randy Crawford. He also played guitar and sang his own composition, ‘Angel,’ on Clapton’s ‘Old Sock,’ which was released earlier this year.

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