JJ Cale, the Oklahoma City-born singer/songwriter/producer who became known as one of the primary pioneers of the Tulsa Sound, died one year ago today in La Jolla, Calif., of a heart attack. He was 74.
As reported then, 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.
Clapton, who recently told the Associated Press Cale rescued him and gave him a direction during his dark days in the 1970s, now is paying tribute to the Tulsa Sound pioneer.
On Tuesday, Eric Clapton & Friends will release the album “The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale).” With performances by Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Derek Trucks and Don White, the album features 16 beloved Cale songs and is named for the 1972 single “Call Me The Breeze.”
U.S. fans fans can stream the full album for free on iTunes before Tuesday’s release at itunes.com/ericclapton.
The full documentary for “The Breeze – An Appreciation of JJ Cale by Eric Clapton” is airing this weekend and leading up to the album release on VH1 Classic and Palladia. This behind-the-scenes look at Clapton’s tribute to JJ Cale features interviews with Clapton, Mayer, Knopfler, Trucks, White, Christine Lakeland and more.
Upcoming Documentary Airing Schedule:
6:30 p.m. Saturday (today)
3:30 p.m. Sunday
11:30 p.m. Sunday
5:30 p.m. Monday
(more at http://www.vh1.com/shows/schedule/vh1classic/daily.jhtml)
8 p.m. Saturday
midnight Saturday (into Sunday)
5 p.m. Sunday
1:30 p.m. Monday
8 p.m. Tuesday
midnight Thursday (into Friday)
8 a.m. Friday
(more at http://www.palladia.tv/schedule.php)
For Clapton, the early 1970s were filled with drug addiction, personal difficulties and growing dissatisfaction with music.
“I went into that dark period in my life and was just absent, and about that time some of JJ’s early stuff was coming out,” the 69-year-old rock musician told the AP. “I definitely was trying to shake off this guitar legend thing, which I thought was so plebian. It was such a pedestrian way of looking at things. I didn’t want anything to do with that. I didn’t want anything to do with this heavy metal (expletive) that was going on. I can’t stand the noise. I wanted to kind of see the virtuosity, I wanted to get back to fundamentals, and he was a fundamentalist for sure. And so he was my beacon.”
Clapton was struck by the idea on a 12-hour flight to Cale’s funeral, and planned it out in a burst of inspiration, according to the AP.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer thought he’d do the album for himself, and if he never released it, so be it. But he met Dick White, one of the first band leaders to hire Cale, at the funeral and invited him to record a song. Once White was onboard, Clapton decided to open it up to other famed friends, with drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Nathan East serving as the rhythm section.
“All through the ’70s it was JJ, it was Bob Marley, it was Stevie Wonder,” Clapton said in a phone interview with the AP. “Those were the places where I knew there was safe, real, creative stuff, and for me out of those guys he was the one I felt I could come closest to if I wanted to follow that trail.”
Check out Clapton’s lyric video for the album cut “Call Me the Breeze”: