JJ Cale, songwriter behind Clapton, Skynyrd hits, dies at 74


LOS ANGELES: Grammy-winning singer-songwriter JJ Cale, whose music was made famous by Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash and others, has died in California. He was 74. He died Friday at a hospital in La Jolla, California, after suffering a heart attack, according to a statement on his website. “Donations are not needed but he was a great lover of animals so, if you like, you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter,” the statement added.

The Oklahoma native, born John Cale, who made music for more than 50 years, wrote Clapton’s hit songs “After Midnight” and “Cocaine,” both covered by the rock star in the 1970s. The pair later recorded an album together, 2006’s “The Road to Escondido,” which earned Cale his Grammy.

Cale also wrote “Call Me the Breeze,” which was covered by southern hard-rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd on their 1974 album “Second Helping,” as well as by Johnny Cash. Other artists and groups that have recorded Cale’s work include Santana, The Allman Brothers, and The Band.

As his latest studio album, 2009’s “Roll on,” was released, Cale said “I remember when I made my first album, I was 32 or 33-years-old and I thought I was way too old then,” according to the bio on his website

“When I see myself doing this at 70, I go, ‘What am I doing, I should be layin’ down in a hammock,’” he joked.

But for the guitarist, producer, engineer, singer, songwriter — whose records also find him tooling around on bass guitar, drums, piano, and other instruments — music was a lifelong vocation.

More recently, Cale wrote one of the songs, “Angel,” on Clapton’s newest album, out this past March. He performed guest guitar and vocals on the track.

In a Vanity Fair interview several years ago, Clapton said Cale was the living person he admired most, according to Cale’s agent’s web site.

Neil Young once said “Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and JJ Cale who are the best electric guitar players,” the site added.