Musician J.J. Cale, write of numerous hit classic rock songs, died last night (July 26th) after suffering a heart attack. His management confirmed his death at the age of 74 after suffering a heart attack. One of the most significant-yet-mysterious songwriters/musicians of his generation, Cale penned notable hits for rock legend Eric Clapton, as well as hits for other 70s stars like Randy Crawford and Santana. He was one of his generation’s most beloved musical figures, despite not ever becoming a household name amongst fans.
“JJ Cale was loved by fans worldwide for his completely unpretentious and beautiful music,” said Mike Kappus, president of the Rosebud Agency. “He was loved even more dearly by all those he came in contact with as the most real and down-to-earth person we all knew.”
Cale was considered an architect of “The Tulsa Sound,” a grooving mix of rockabilly, blues, jazz and country. His original tunes helped Clapton find his commercial footing after the legendary guitarist’s successful tenures in bands like Cream and Derek & the Dominos. Clapton’s cover of “After Midnight” gave Cale his first taste of industry success as a writer–and was followed by another hit Clapton cover, “Cocaine.” The success his songs found with Clapton gave Cale the clout to launch his own career as a recording artist. Cale also wrote for The Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash, The Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s classic “Call Me the Breeze.”
“He was incredibly humble and avoided the spotlight at all costs but will be missed by anyone touched by him directly or indirectly,” Kappus said. “Luckily, his music lives on.”
“I remember when I made my first album; I was 32 or 33 years old and I thought I was way too old then,” Cale said in his official bio. “When I see myself doing this at 70, I go, ‘What am I doing? I should be layin’ down in a hammock.'”
He said that he never cared that widespread fame eluded him for his entire career.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Cale said. “What’s really nice is when you get a check in the mail.”