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JJ Cale, Elvin Bishop, Jim Keltner, Chuck Blackwell, and Lowell Fulson to be inducted into Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Nov. 1

by Brandy McDonnell Modified: July 29, 2014 at 7:05 pm •  Published: July 29, 2014
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JJ Cale will be posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in fall. AP file photo
JJ Cale will be posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in fall. AP file photo

TULSA – The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2014 inductees at a press conference today at Cain’s Ballroom.

The historic venue was a canny choice for the announcement: Not only will the Nov. 1 induction ceremony and concert take place at Cain’s Ballroom, but also, this year’s class is paying special tribute to the influential Tulsa Sound.

This year’s class includes the late JJ Cale, Elvin Bishop, Jim Keltner, Chuck Blackwell and the late Lowell Fulson.

The news was announced the same day as the release of Eric Clapton & Friends’ “The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale),” a tribute album featuring Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Derek Trucks and fellow Tulsan Don White, with Keltner on the drums.

This year’s Tulsa event will mark only the second time in the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame’s 17-year history that the induction ceremony and concert has been moved out of Muskogee, where the hall originated and is based. (The 2013 ceremony also was in Tulsa at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center, as the venue was one of the honorees.)

“This will be our first induction to focus on a genre and location. We are extremely excited to honor a number of Tulsa-based artists,” said Jim Blair, Executive Director for the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, in a news release.

Inductees scheduled to perform at the event include Bishop, Keltner and Blackwell, according to the release.

Tulsa Sound musicians slated to perform include White, Gary Gilmore, Walt Richmond, Larry Bell, David Teegarden, Tommy Crook, Jimmy Markham, Rocky Frisco, Jim Byfield, Charles Tuberville, Jamie Oldaker and others.

Others scheduled to perform at the event include James Cruce and Cale’s widow, Christine Lakeland Cale.

The induction event will begin with a reception at 8 p.m. including appetizers from Oklahoma Joe’s. General admission tickets are $30.

Tickets go on sale to Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame members Aug. 8 and to the general public on Aug. 15. They will be available for purchase at www.cainsballroom.com.

There is still time to become a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. For more information, go to www.omhof.com.

Here is more information on the inductees:

Born in Oklahoma City and bred in Tulsa, JJ Cale wrote songs that became some of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll hits of the 1970s for other artists, most notably “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” for Eric Clapton, “Call Me the Breeze” for Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Crazy Mama” for Neil Young. As the AP noted in his obituary, the list of artists who covered his music or cite him as a direct influence reads like a who’s who of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Clapton, Young, fellow Oklahoma native/Tulsa Sound pioneer Leon Russell, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Mark Knopfler, The Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, Captain Beefheart and Bryan Ferry among many others.

It was Clapton who forged the closest relationship with Cale. Clapton also recorded the Cale songs “Travelin’ Light” and “I’ll Make Love To You Anytime” and included the Cale composition “Angel” on his most recent album, “Old Sock.” The two also collaborated together on “The Road to Escondido,” which won the Grammy Award for best contemporary blues album in 2008.

Cale released what turned out to his final album, “Roll On,” in 2009, and the follow-up to 2006′s “Escondido” continued his habit of making masterfully earthy music that drew on the blues, folk, jazz and country to create a richly diverse sound. Clapton appeared with Cale on the title track for “Roll On,” along with Oklahoman Steve Ripley on acoustic guitar, but for the most part it was in a very real sense a solo album: Not only did Cale write and sing all 12 tracks, he also played a range of instruments, including guitar, bass, banjo, piano and synthesizers.

He died of a heart attack July 26, 2013, in La Jolla, Calif. He was 74.

Bluesman and rocker Elvin Bishop was born in Glendale, Calif., and grew up on a farm near Elliott, Iowa, according to elvinbishopmusic.com. His family moved to Tulsa when he was 10 years old. His earliest exposure to music came from the family’s radio, where in between “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” young Elvin could sometimes catch classic records of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. He quickly acquired his first guitar and on his own began working out the basic outlines of the blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll that had captured his soul. By the time he was preparing for college in the late 1950s, Bishop had earned a National Merit Scholarship that allowed him to go to almost any school he chose – and the only choice on his mind was the prestigious University of Chicago on Chicago’s South Side, ground zero for the urban blues he had grown to love from a distance.

He is best known for his work as a founding member of the groundbreaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early ‘60s, recordings with legends such as Clifton Chenier, John Lee Hooker, and The Allman Brothers, and the pop success of  his own 1976 smash hit “Fooled Around and Fell In Love.” His 2008 album “The Blues Rolls On” was nominated for a Grammy.

A go-to session drummer, Jim Keltner is best known for his session work on solo recordings by three of The Beatles: George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, according to www.drummerworld.com. He also has worked with fellow Tulsa Sound pioneer Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Gabor Szabo, Delaney Bramlett, Roy Orbison, Harry Nilsson, Jerry Garcia, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Van Dyke Parks, the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, Seals and Crofts, The Ramones, Bill Frisell, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Phil Keaggy, Steve Jones, Crowded House, Fiona Apple, Elvis Costello, The Bee Gees, Jackson Browne, The Manhattan Transfer, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Sam Phillips, Los Lobos, Pink Floyd, Warren Zevon, Rufus Wainwright, Tom Petty, Gillian Welch, the Steve Miller Band, Alice Cooper, Sheryl Crow and Lucinda Williams.

He and Starr were the drummers on the Concert for Bangladesh, rock music’s first charity benefit, initiated by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, in August 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York; he also performed at the Garden in 1972 for John Lennon’s “One To One” benefit for the Willowbrook State School.

Keltner continues to work as a musician, drumming on the newly released tribute album “The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale).”

Fellow drummer Chuck Blackwell starting playing bars around Tulsa when he was 13 years old. He always had a note in his pocket written by his mother and signed by his mother and father saying “To whom it may concern: Chuck Blackwell has his mother and father’s permission to play in this bar.” By the time Blackwell reached high school, he was playing with fellow Tulsan Leon Russell around town. After graduation, Blackwell went on the road with Russell.

He broke with Russell in 1973 but continued to play the “big time,” according to The Oklahoman Archives.

Blackwell also played for the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Taj Mahal and Joe Cocker. He played before audiences of 40,000 to 75,000 in Europe, Canada, South America and Japan, as well as major cities in the United States. In addition, he was a staff drummer on the nationally-televised prime-time show “Shindig” in the ’60s.

One of the founders of West Coast America blues, Lowell Fulson recorded steadily from the 1940s through ’90s. According to AllMusic.com, the guitarist recorded every variation of the blues imaginable: Polished urban blues, rustic two-guitar duets with his younger brother Martin and funk-tinged grooves that pierced the mid-’60s charts.

Exposed to the Western swing of Bob Wills, as well as indigenous blues while growing up in Oklahoma, the Tulsa native moved to was off to Oakland, Calif., in the 1940s after a brief stint in the Navy. In California, he made his first 78s for fledgling producer Bob Geddins. Soon enough, Fulson was fronting his own band and cutting a stack of records for Big Town, Gilt Edge, Trilon, and Down Town. Swing Time records snapped up Fulson in 1948, and the hits really began to flow: the immortal “Every Day I Have the Blues” (an adaptation of Memphis Slim’s “Nobody Loves Me”), “Blue Shadows,” the two-sided holiday perennial “Lonesome Christmas,” and a groovy midtempo instrumental “Low Society Blues” that really hammers home how tremendously important pianist Lloyd Glenn and alto saxist Earl Brown were to Fulson’s maturing sound (all charted in 1950).

Fulson toured extensively from then on, his band stocked for a time with dazzling pianist Ray Charles (who later covered Lowell’s “Sinner’s Prayer” for Atlantic) and saxist Stanley Turrentine. After a one-off session in New Orleans in 1953 for Aladdin, Fulson inked a longterm pact with Chess in 1954.

He continued to perform until 1997, when health problems forced the career bluesman into a reluctant retirement. He died in 1999 just weeks shy of his 78th birthday.

-BAM

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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