Skip to main content

Writer of hits JJ Cale dead at 74, rep says

By Mariano Castillo, CNN
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
Singer-songwriter JJ Cale died Friday, July 26, after suffering a heart attack. He was 74. Cale is cited as an influence by some of rock 'n' roll's biggest names, and some of his songs went on to be enormous hits performed by the likes of Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Click through to see who else has covered Cale's music. Singer-songwriter JJ Cale died Friday, July 26, after suffering a heart attack. He was 74. Cale is cited as an influence by some of rock 'n' roll's biggest names, and some of his songs went on to be enormous hits performed by the likes of Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Click through to see who else has covered Cale's music.
HIDE CAPTION
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
JJ Cale: The man behind the hits
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Eric Clapton laments JJ Cale's passing
  • Cale wrote a number of hits, including "After Midnight"
  • He died after suffering a heart attack, his rep says
  • He is credited with helping create what is known as the Tulsa Sound

(CNN) -- Musician JJ Cale, whose songs "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" were made famous by Eric Clapton, died Friday night after suffering a heart attack, the president of his management agency said. His contemporaries considered him a legend, even if many fans weren't familiar with his name.

He was 74.

"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."

'Cocaine's' Cale makes his own groove

Lynyrd Skynyrd made Cale's song "Call Me The Breeze" famous, and bands including Santana, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash, and many others covered his songs.

He won a Grammy for his 2006 album with Clapton, called "The Road to Escondido."

Click through to see people who passed away in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
People we lost in 2013
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: People we lost in 2013 Photos: People we lost in 2013

"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."

The singer-songwriter passed away at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, his official website said.

There were no immediate plans for funeral services, it said.

"We've lost a great artist and a great person," Clapton wrote on his Facebook page.

His official biography describes Cale as someone for whom music is all he's ever known.

"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, according to his bio. "When I see myself doing this at 70, I go, 'What am I doing, I should be layin' down in a hammock.'"

He was living in Tulsa and had given up on making money in the record business when his career was suddenly made by Clapton's cover of "After Midnight."

That moment changed everything for the musician, his biography states. After Clapton picked up his song, Cale drove to Nashville to record his first album.

He is credited with helping create what is known as the Tulsa Sound, a laid-back style that contrasted with the psychedelic rock that was heard at the time.

"I'm so old, I can remember before rock 'n' roll come along," Cale told CNN in 2009. "When I was a young fellow, I played guitar for other people, so I'd have to learn (cover tunes). ... So the guitar players on all those early recordings, I guess, influenced what I did. I never could get it exactly right the way they played it, and I guess that helped the style that evolved."

Other musicians who covered Cale's work include The Band, Chet Atkins, Freddie King, Maria Muldaur and Captain Beefheart, according to his biography, which also notes he was asked whether it bothered him that fellow musicians considered him a legend while many fans did not even know his name.

"No, it doesn't bother me," Cale said. "What's really nice is when you get a check in the mail."

People we've lost in 2013: The lives they lived

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
January 6, 2014 -- Updated 0030 GMT (0830 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 0055 GMT (0855 HKT)
Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died. He was 67.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 1959 GMT (0359 HKT)
Dr. John W.V. Cordice, the surgeon who operated on Dr. Martin Luther King after he was stabbed in Harlem in 1958, died in Iowa. Cordice was 95.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 0128 GMT (0928 HKT)
Joseph Ruskin died of natural causes in a Santa Monica, California, hospital. He was 89.
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 2119 GMT (0519 HKT)
Jeffrey Ian Pollack, who directed the popular 1990s films "Booty Call" and "Above the Rim" and produced "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" has died. He was 54.
December 23, 2013 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian gun designer whose AK-47 rifle became the weapon of choice for many national armies and guerrillas around the world, died.
December 22, 2013 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Ned Vizzini, who shot to fame at a young age for his teenage novels focusing on youth depression and anxieties, committed suicide at age 32.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Al Goldstein, the foul-mouthed publisher of Screw magazine and pornography pioneer died in New York. He was 77.
December 31, 2013 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Actor Daniel Escobar, who played a teacher in "Lizzie McGuire," died from complications of diabetes in Los Angeles. He was 49.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 0041 GMT (0841 HKT)
"Great Train Robber" Ronnie Biggs -- one of the most notorious British criminals of the 20th century -- has died, his publisher told CNN. He was 84.
December 17, 2013 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Ray Price, the Nashville star whose trademark "shuffle" beat became a country music staple, has died at age 87, his agent said.
December 17, 2013 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine died, her longtime friend Noel Beutel said. She was 96.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 1240 GMT (2040 HKT)
Actor Peter O'Toole died peacefully in a hospital at 81 years old.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, died at age 82.
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall, who played with the jazz greats of the 20th century and influenced the younger ones, has died, his family said. He was 83.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Actress Eleanor Parker, nominated for three Oscars and known for her "Sound of Music" role, died Monday at 91, her family said.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0440 GMT (1240 HKT)
Freedom fighter, statesman, moral compass and South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 0218 GMT (1018 HKT)
Bill Beckwith, who co-hosted HGTV home-improvement show "Curb Appeal," has died. He was 38.
December 2, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
Actor Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise "Fast & Furious," died in a car crash in Southern California. He was 40.
November 30, 2013 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Paul F. Crouch, co-founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 2342 GMT (0742 HKT)
Jane Kean, who played diverse roles during a long career but was best known as Trixie on the TV revival of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 90.
November 25, 2013 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Singer Wayne Mills, whose "outlaw country" songs center on honky-tonk life, died in a Nashville bar shooting.
ADVERTISEMENT