JJ Cale, known as the founder of 'the Tulsa Sound' for his brilliant understated sensitivity on the guitar, coupled with his minimalist lyrics and his passion for the engineering side of the sound studio, has died.
Cale was late in getting his music out there. His first album, Naturally was released in 1972 when he was 33. It contained the song, Crazy Mama which made it to #22 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart that year. By his own admission, Cale wouldn't have minded the fortune, but eschewed the fame. So it wasn't until Eric Clapton joined forces with Cale on their Emmy-winning album, Road to Escondido (2006) that Cale was reluctantly drawn back into the limelight.
Cale claimed that his genius in the recording studio where he discovered the power of drum machines, was born of necessity. In an interview with Aaron Kayce, Cale told him, "I first started out doing that because of the economics; I didn't have enough money to hire a band. Now that I have enough money to hire a band, I still like that; it's kind of an art form in itself."
Cale's roster of Blues artists who sing his praises is impressive: First and foremost is Eric Clapton who said, "...I was impressed by the subtlety by what wasn't being played." Neil Young also weighed in on Cale: "JJ's the one who played all that s*** first...he's got that thing. I don't know what it is."
On February 23, 2009, Critic Michael Corcoran wrote in the Austin American Statesman "...Cale serves the blues rock like the best $1.99 breakfast you've ever had...Nobody can hit it hard and soft at the same time, and still carry a melody, like this 70-year-old boogie minimalist."
JJ Cale's death, at 74 of a heart attack last Friday, brings to mind his lyrics of Roll On's final cut, "enough is enough, can't do it no more/ Bring down the curtain, close the door."