American singer-songwriter and musicianJohn Weldon Cale(JJCale) was born December 5, 1938. in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1956 and 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 Eric Clapton recorded Cale’s “After Midnight” in 1970. Cale was one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, drawing on blues, rockabilly,country, and jazz influences. Cale’s personal style has often been described as “laid back”.Songs written by Cale that have been covered by other musicians include “After Midnight” by Eric Clapton, Phish and Jerry Garcia, “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton, “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook, and “Call Me the Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayer and Bobby Bare.
His first album, Naturally, established his style, described by Los Angeles Times writer Richard Cromelin as a “unique hybrid of blues, folk and jazz, marked by relaxed grooves and Cale’s fluid guitar and laconic vocals. His early use of 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 musicpurists. 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. Some sources incorrectly give his real name as “Jean-Jacques Cale”. In the 2005 documentary, To Tulsa and Back: On Tour with J.J. Cale, Cale talks about Elmer Valentine, co-owner of the Sunset Strip nightclub Whisky a Go Go, who employed him in the mid-1960s, being the one that came up with the “JJ” moniker to avoid confusion with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. Rocky Friscotells the same version of the story mentioning the other John Cale but without further detail ]In this 2005 documentary J.J. Cale’s style is also characterized by Eric Clapton as “…really, really minimal…” and he states precisely: “…it’s all about finesse”.
His biggest U.S. hit single, “Crazy Mama”, peaked at #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1972. In 2008 he was a Grammy Award winner, jointly with Clapton. In the 2005 documentary filmTo Tulsa and Back Cale recounts the story of being offered the opportunity to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand to promote the song, which would have moved it higher on the charts. Cale declined when told he could not bring his band to the taping and would be required to lip-sync the words. Cale often acted as his own producer, engineer and session player. His vocals, sometimes whispery, would be buried in the mix. He attributed his unique sound to being a recording mixer and engineer, saying; “Because of all the technology now you can make music yourself and a lot of people are doing that now. I started out doing that a long time ago and I found when I did that I came up with a unique sound.”Cale died of heart failure On July 26, 2013 at the age of 74, in La Jolla, California.