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J.J. Cale

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With his laid-back rootsy style, J.J. Cale was best known for writing "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," songs that Eric Clapton later made into hits. But Cale's influence wasn't only through songwriting -- his distinctly loping sense of rhythm and shuffling boogie became the blueprint for the adult-oriented roots rock of Clapton and Mark Knopfler, among others. Cale's refusal to vary the sound of his music over the course of his career caused some critics to label him as a one-trick pony, but he managed to build a dedicated cult following with his sporadically released recordings. Born in Oklahoma City but raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cale played in a variety of rock & roll bands and Western swing groups as a teenager, including one outfit that also featured Leon Russell. In 1959, at the age of 21, he moved to Nashville, where he was hired by the Grand Ole Opry's touring company. After a few years, he returned to Tulsa, where he reunited with Russell and began playing local clubs. In 1964, Cale and Russell moved to Los Angeles with another local Oklahoma musician, Carl Radle. Shortly after he arrived in Los Angeles, Cale began playing with Delaney & Bonnie. He only played with the duo for a brief time, beginning a solo career in 1965. That year, he cut the first version of "After Midnight," which would become his most famous song. Around 1966, Cale formed the Leathercoated Minds with songwriter Roger Tillison. The group released a psychedelic album called A Trip Down Sunset Strip the same year. Deciding that he wouldn't be able to forge a career in Los Angeles, Cale returned to Tulsa in 1967. Upon his return, he set about playing local clubs. Within a year, he had recorded a set of demos. Radle obtained a copy of the demos and forwarded it to Denny Cordell, who was founding a record label called Shelter with Leon Russell. Shelter signed Cale in 1969. The following year, Eric Clapton recorded "After Midnight," taking it to the American Top 20 and thereby providing Cale with needed exposure and royalties. In December 1971, Cale released his debut album, Naturally, on Shelter Records; the album featured the Top 40 hit "Crazy Mama," as well as a re-recorded version of "After Midnight," which nearly reached the Top 40, and "Call Me the Breeze," which Lynyrd Skynyrd later covered. Cale followed Naturally with Really, which featured the minor hit "Lies," later that same year. Following the release of Really, J.J. Cale adopted a slow work schedule, releasing an album every other year or so. Okie, his third album, appeared in 1974. Two years later, he released Troubadour, which yielded "Hey Baby," his last minor hit, as well as the original version of "Cocaine," a song that Clapton would later cover. By this point, Cale had settled into a comfortable career as a cult artist and he rarely made any attempt to break into the mainstream. One more album on Shelter Records, 5, appeared in 1979 and then he switched labels, signing with MCA in 1981. MCA only released one album (1981's Shades) and Cale moved to Mercury Records the following year, releasing Grasshopper. In 1983, Cale released his eighth album, 8. The album became his first not to chart. Following its release, Cale left Mercury and entered a long period of seclusion, reappearing in late 1990 with Travel Log, which was released on the British independent label Silvertone; the album appeared in America the following year. 10 was released in 1992. The album failed to chart, but it re-established his power as a cult artist. He moved to the major label Virgin in 1994, releasing Close to You the same year. It was followed by Guitar Man in 1996. Cale returned to recording in 2003, releasing To Tulsa and Back in 2004 on the Sanctuary label and The Road to Escondido, a collaborative effort with Clapton, in 2006 on Reprise. Roll On appeared in 2009 on Rounder Records. A CD/DVD set drawn from sessions Cale recorded with Leon Russell on keyboards in 1979, In Session at Paradise Studio, appeared early in 2013. In July of that year, Cale died of a heart attack in a hospital in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California; he was 74 years old. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Albums by
J.J. Cale

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    12 songs

    On Air

    Roll On

    14 songs

    On Air

    The Road to Escondido

    12 songs

    On Air

    Guitar Man

    12 songs

    On Air

    Closer to You

    10 songs

    On Air

    Shades

    12 songs

    On Air

    5

    14 songs

    On Air

    Grasshopper

    12 songs

    On Air

    Troubadour

    12 songs

    On Air

    Naturally

    13 songs

    On Air

    To Tulsa and Back

    15 songs

    On Air

    Rewind: Unreleased Recordings

    11 songs

    On Air

    20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of J.J. Cale

    20 songs

    On Air

    The Definitive Collection

    50 songs

    On Air

    Anyway the Wind Blows: The Anthology

    14 songs

    On Air

    J.J. Cale Live

    13 songs

    On Air

    To Tulsa and Back

    12 songs

    On Air

    Number 10

    12 songs

    On Air

    Okie

    12 songs

    On Air

    Really

    14 songs

    On Air

    Travel-Log

    6 songs

    On Air

    J.J. Cale - Live on Kfc, San Francisco

    12 songs

    On Air

    Cajun Moon

    25 songs

    On Air

    The Silvertone Years

    10 songs

    On Air

    8

See All Albums

Top Songs by
J.J. Cale

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   After Midnight
  3.   Cocaine
  4.   Crazy Mama
  5.   Call Me the Breeze
  6.   When This War Is Over by Eric Clapton
  7.   Anyway the Wind Blows
  8.   Down to Memphis
  9.   Danger
  10.   Don't Go to Strangers
  11.   Last Will and Testament
  12.   Low Down
  13.   Who Knew
  14.   Heads in Georgia
  15.   Oh Mary
  16.   Magnolia
  17.   Three Little Girls
  18.   Missing Person
  19.   Former Me
  20.   Strange Days
  21.   New Lover
  22.   Hold on Baby
  23.   Change Your Mind
  24.   One Step
  25.   Trouble in the City
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
J.J. Cale

    On Air

    Modern Blues

    On Air

    Denis Leary & Elizabeth Gillies: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    The Black Keys: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Jam Bands

    On Air

    Americana

    On Air

    Coffee House

    On Air

    Eclectic Rock

    On Air

    '70s Deep Dive


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