Legendary Musician J.J. Cale Passes Away At 74 Years Old

Brad Bershad

by Brad Bershad

Published July 27, 2013


The Rosebud Agency has sent an email this morning that the great J.J. Cale has passed away at 74 years old. The official statement says:

We've lost a great artist and a great person tonight.

JJ Cale passed away at 8:00 pm on Friday July 26 at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA.

He 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, you can remember him with donations to your favorite local animal shelter.

J.J. Cale is best known for his songwriting, but he was also a fantastic singer, guitar player, and producer in his own right. His style is an amazing combination of dirt-under-the-fingernails back porch country blues with smokey bar room rock & roll and jazz.

Cale may never have had huge commercial or critical success, but he's one of the most respected musicians amongst his peers that ever was. Eric Clapton has said repeatedly that J.J. Cale is his favorite musician. When "Slowhand" decided to change directions in the '70s, he got big hits out of J.J. Cale songs "Cocaine" and "After Midnight"; in 2006, the two made an album together called The Road to Escondido. Lynyrd Skynyrd also got a big hit out of "Call Me The Breeze" which was an amped up version of Cale's signature laid back rocker. Other notable acts that have played his songs in concert are Tom Petty and Widespread Panic.

In the book Shakey, Neil Young is quoted as saying:

What is it about J.J. Cale's playing? I mean, you could say Eric Clapton's the guitar god, but what the fuck does that mean? I mean he can't play like J.J. J.J.'s the one who played all that shit first. Most of the songs and the riffs - the way he plays the fucking guitar is so... great. ... And he doesn't play very loud, either - I really like that about him. He's so sensitive. Of all the players I ever heard, it's gotta be Hendrix and J.J. Cale who are the best electric guitar players. J.J.'s my peer, but he doesn't have the business acumen - he doesn't have the idea of how to deal with the rest of the world that I do. But musically, he's actually more than my peer, because he's got that thing. I don't know what it is.

In his auto-biography, Neil Young has pointed to "Crazy Mama" as one of the songs that influenced him most as a songwriter. Check out this very cool video of J.J. Cale talking about his one-of-a-kind guitar and performing the song at Paradise Studio with fellow Oklahoma native Leon Russell:

The documentary mentioned in the official statement, To Tulsa And Back, is a must-watch film for any lover of Americana music. It details how Cale was influenced by rock, country, jazz, and blues to forge his own sound that was entirely unique while being steeped in tradition. It's currently available on YouTube as a low quality stream. It's also available on Netflix.

More great J.J. Cale songs:


Don't Go To Strangers:

Same Old Blues:


Any Way The Wind Blows:

Sensitive Kind:

Show Biz Blues:

Since You Said Goodbye:

Rest In Peace, J.J. Cale.

Americana Blues Blues Rock Classic Rock Folk Folk Rock Funk Jambands Psychedelic R&B-Soul
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