JJ Cale is best-known for writing classic songs including “After Midnight” and “Call Me The Breeze,” covered by Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, respectively. But the influence of the GRAMMY-winning musician and songwriter, who died at age 74 on July 26 at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California, crossed over into country as well.
The Tennessean reports via the Associated Press that JJ’s manager, Mike Kappus, confirmed the legend died of a heart attack. Born John Weldon Cale in Oklahoma City, he influenced some of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll musicians in the 1970s. In addition to Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler and Bryan Ferry count themselves among his fans. Additionally, JJ was once a former member of the Grand Ole Opry touring company.
As news of JJ’s passing spread on Twitter, stars tweeted their respects.
“We really lost a great artist today,” said Steve Wariner. His great recordings live on. RIP JJ Cale.”
“J.J. Cale was my dad’s favorite,” said Shooter Jennings. “He studied his songs and his singing. He was the king, the smartest & the slickest of all. R.I.P.”
“Our music family has lost a great one,” said Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney. “My thoughts & prayers are w JJ’s family.”
“One of the American songwriting greats has passed,” said Radney Foster. “JJ Cale wrote hits for Clapton, Waylon, Poco and songs for so many others. I loved his writing so much. He will be missed.”
“Just landed and read the news about JJ Cale,” said Sheryl Crow. “Sad to hear of his passing. His songs brought me lots of joy. RIP.”
While JJ never reached the level of success of his some of his fellow musicians, his fingerprints were all over the genre in the 1970s. His album with Eric Clapton, The Road to Escondido, won a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2007. “I’d probably be selling shoes today if it wasn’t for Eric,” he told the AP in 2007.
Eric Clapton also recorded JJ’s “Cocaine,” ”Travelin’ Light” and “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime.” Santana, The Allman Brothers and Johnny Cash are among those who have covered his songs. On his website, JJ was asked if it bothers him that though he’s listed among legends, fans don’t know his name.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “What’s really nice is when you get a check in the mail.”