The Quiet Stardom of J.J. Cale

J.J. Cale passed away this past July at the age of 74. While widely respected and admired by many fellow musicians, he shied away from the bright lights of stardom, preferring to focus on songwriting and playing music. And create, he did. Some of the most memorable rock songs of the 70s were penned by J.J. Cale. This animated Op-Doc explores why J.J. Cale, who wrote classics like “After Midnight,” “Cocaine” and “Call Me the Breeze,” never achieved stardom.
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More About J.J. Cale

J.J. Cale – To Tulsa And Back: On Tour With JJ Cale is an excellent documentary by Jörg Bundschuh.

Film Synopsis


He was a legend wrapped in mystery whose records and persona earned him a devoted cult following worldwide. J.J. Cale quietly made a major impact on rock music but remains an enigma as perhaps the most unpretentious man in popular music. Although he wrote some of the biggest rock hits ever and was regularly offered major concert dates, he lived for years in a trailer away from the public eye taking years off between recordings and performances.

J.J. Cale is credited with creating the Tulsa Sound, a laid back mix of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, Blues and Jazz. When Mojo Magazine asked Eric Clapton which other musician he would most like to be, he answered “Cale”, calling him “one of the masters of the last three decades of music.” Neil Young is quoted in his biography Shakey as saying “He’s so sensitive. Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and J.J. Cale who are the best electric guitar players.” Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler also admits to having based their sound on Cale’s unique style. Among Cale’s devoted fans are musicians of all generations, such as Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and Widespread Panic. J.J.Cale is a musician’s musician.

While Clapton had two of his biggest hits with Cale’s “After Midnight” and “Cocaine”, other artists as varied as Johnny Cash, the Allman Brothers, Brian Ferry, Captain Beefheart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, Jerry Garcia, Deep Purple and many more have covered Cale songs such as “Call Me The Breeze,” “Anyway The Wind Blows,” “Cajun Moon,” “Call the Doctor,” “Crazy Mama,” “Magnolia,” “Sensitive Kind” and “Travelin Light.”

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