Musician J.J. Cale, 74; wrote Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd hits

J.J. Cale at an Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas in 2004. The author of “After Midnight” died Friday.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

J.J. Cale at an Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas in 2004. The author of “After Midnight” died Friday.

NEW YORK — Grammy-winning musician J.J. Cale, whose best known songs became hits for Eric Clapton with ‘‘After Midnight’’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd with ‘‘Call Me the Breeze,’’ has died. He was 74.

The performer and producer’s manager, Mike Kappus, said that the architect of the Tulsa Sound died Friday night of a heart attack at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.


Born John Cale in Oklahoma City, he cut a wide path through 1970s rock ’n’ roll, influencing some of the most famous musicians at the time with songs laid back and mellow, yet imbued with a driving groove.

Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, and Bryan Ferry are among his many fans in the music world.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

A former member of the Grand Ole Opry touring company, Mr. Cale never rose to the level of success of his admirers, but his fingerprints could be heard all over the genre in the 1970s, and his music remains influential.

His album with Clapton, ‘‘The Road to Escondido,’’ won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2007.

In 2006, Mr. Cale said in an Associated Press interview: ‘‘I’d probably be selling shoes today if it wasn’t for Eric.’’


Clapton also recorded Mr. Cale’s ‘‘Cocaine,’’ ‘’Travelin’ Light,’’ and ‘‘I’ll Make Love To You Anytime.’’ Other artists including Santana, Johnny Cash, and The Allman Brothers have all covered his songs.

Mr. Cale was asked on his website if it bothers him that ‘‘contemporaries and critics list him among the music legends, and fans might love his songs yet not even know his name?’’

‘‘No, it doesn’t bother me,’’ he said with a laugh. ‘‘What’s really nice is when you get a check in the mail.’’

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
We hope you've enjoyed your free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of