JJ Cale: Goodbye Old Friend
JJ Cale was nothing if not organic. Simple tunes with simple melodies and a blues bent were his trademark. He wasn’t a bad guitarist either, but Cale himself admits he knew he’d have to do more than play guitar if he was going to put food on the table. He had written “After Midnight” in 1962 and gotten on with his life, all but giving up on a music career. Then a young fellow named Eric Clapton recorded and released the song in 1970 and as Cale tells it, when he heard Eric doing “After Midnight” on the radio, he decided he really was a songwriter after all. Two years later, JJ Cale released his “Naturally” album which contained, among other songs, ”They Call Me The Breeze,” “After Midnight,” and the seminal “Magnolia.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Eric Clapton’s career was intertwined with JJ Cale’s throughout the years not only by the Cale compositions he recorded and performed, but by JJ Cale’s undeniable influence on Eric’s musical stylings. The two shared a mutual admiration for each other and the relationship culminated with the recording of “The Road To Escondido,” in 2006, a Grammy Award winning collaboration between the two.
Clearly Eric Clapton and JJ Cale were on the same wavelength. Clearly they were friends.
Clapton once told Vanity Fair Magazine that JJ Cale was the one living person he most admired, and Cale told The Associated Press: “I’d probably be selling shoes today if it wasn’t for Eric.”
I'm not so sure that JJ Cale would have wound up selling shoes if not for the Clapton breakthrough, but he sure has left a unique pair of shoes to fill with his passing. There undoubtedly sits somewhere in this world tonight, a sad Englishman and his Stratocaster guitar, saying goodbye to an old friend.
A great Americana artist ( and other genre's ) who should be on this list. Since I'm the list maker I will correct my oversight asap.