It's an unfortunate fact, but for many, the name J.J. Cale might just as well belong to John Cale, the ex-Velvet Underground musical provocateur, or J.J. Abrams, the screenwriter and producer, or, well, anyone or no one at all.
Songwriter and musician Cale, who died Friday of a heart attack in La Jolla, California, at age 74, pursued his craft nestled somewhere under the radar. Not that he avoided recognition; he recorded 15 albums in all, beginning with Naturally, his 1972 debut and one of the earliest offerings on Leon Russell's fledgling Shelter Records label. His efforts brought him well up to the present day, culminating in the 2006 song summit with longtime friend and fellow traveler Eric Clapton, the Grammy Award-winning collaboration The Road to Escondido, and, just this year, his contribution to Clapton's current covers album, Old Sock.
In truth, though, it wasn't Cale's recordings that will solidify his lingering legacy. It was the song classics he penned, like "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" as interpreted by Clapton. Or "Call Me the Breeze," a staple of Lynyrd Skynrd's. Or "Ride Me High" and "Travelin' Light," appropriated by Widespread Panic. Or any of his tunes covered by Santana, the Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. More »