JJ Cale

JJ Cale 1938-2013JJ Cale, who died of a heart attack on July 26 ,was a musician’s musician. By that I mean he was under-appreciated in terms of sales figures but loved by his peers. Want proof?  Here’s Ben Bridwell from Band Of Horses:

“JJ Cale is my hero. John Weldon Cale was still making great music well into his 70’s, which makes it even sadder to hearof his passing. To lose a dude as cool as Cale is not only a loss for fans of great music, but a loss for those who rail against egoism and pompousness. The fact that he was still creating incredible albums in his 70’s that rival any of his earlier work adds an extra sting for his many devoted fans. I beg you to check out his 2009 album Roll On.”

Here’s Mike Campbell from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers:

Whenever I listen to music, it is nearly always one of his records.  He had a gift for the sweetest groove, the sweetest guitar phrase, and the coolest lyrics- understated, but deep.  “I’m not a homeless man -- I’m a gypsy by trade and I’m traveling this land” is one of my favorites.

From an interview of Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits:

 “Oh, of course, yeah — I listened to a lot of JJ Cale around the time my style was developing, “He’s very, very special to me.”


“The effortlessness, that restraint and underplaying, undersinging — it was just very powerful,” said Beck. “The power of doing less and holding back in a song, I’ve taken a lot of influence from that.”

Eric Clapton, from his autobiography:

“I was tired of the ‘guitar hero’ thing and I was starting to follow the example of JJ Cale.” In another interview, Clapton said, “I was tired of gymnastic guitar playing, and when I listened to JJ Cale records, I was impressed by the subtlety, by what wasn’t being played.

Neil Young, from his biography, Shakey:

What is it about JJ Cale’s playing? I mean, you could say Eric Clapton’s the guitar god, but… he can’t play like JJ,  JJ’s the one who played all that shit first… And he doesn’t play very loud, either — I really like that about him. He’s so sensitive. Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and JJ Cale who are the best electric guitar players. JJ’s my peer, but he doesn’t have the business acumen — he doesn’t have the idea of how to deal with the rest of the world that I do. But musically, he’s actually more than my peer, because he’s got that thing. I don’t know what it is.”

Pretty impressive indeed.  Ben Bridwell created a Spotify playlist of JJ Cale music.  I suggest you give it a listen.

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