NPR : News

Filed Under:

Singer, Songwriter J.J. Cale Dead From Heart Attack At 74

J.J. Cale, whose songs became hits for the likes of Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at age 74 from a heart attack, his management agency's website announced.

Cale died at about 8:00 p.m. Friday at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., the Rosebud agency said Saturday.

In 1971, Cale, who was born and raised in Oklahoma, released his debut album, Naturally, while he was already in his 30s. He won a Grammy in 2006 for The Road to Escondido, recorded with Clapton.

But he was always best known as a songwriter for other musicians. His songs "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" became hits for Clapton in 70s and 80s and Lynyrd Skynyrd made "Call Me The Breeze" famous. Johnny Cash, Santana and the Allman Brothers were also among those who covered his songs.

In a 2009 interview with NPR, Cale spoke about the moment he realized he'd made it in the music business. Eric Clapton had recorded "After Midnight."

"And I heard it on the radio, and I went, 'Oh, boy, I'm a songwriter now. I'm not an engineer or an elevator operator,' " he said.

Speaking to All Things Considered host Melissa Block, Cale said as he got older, his songwriting moved to a more mature place.

"I used to write more about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. I don't do that quite as much as I used to, and it's a little bit more 'old man' philosophy," he said.

Freddy King, Bobby Bland and Captain Beefheart also covered his songs.

"Basically, I'm just a guitar player that figured out I wasn't ever gonna be able to buy dinner with my guitar playing so I got into songwriting, which is a little more profitable business," Cale says in a bio on jjcale.com.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Check Out This 1999 Profile Of The Late, Great Juan Gabriel

Juan Gabriel stayed true to his roots, even when it wasn't easy. This LA Times piece takes a look at why that was.
NPR

The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
WAMU 88.5

State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education.

NPR

Scientists Looking For Alien Life Investigate 'Interesting' Signal From Space

Russian astronomers detected an unusual radio signal last year. The SETI Institute says its too soon to say if the signal came from intelligent lifeforms — but they're checking it out.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.