Singer-songwriter JJ Cale dead at 74 after heart attack

Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:29pm EDT
 
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By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter JJ Cale, one of the most versatile musicians of his era who played guitar and spanned music genres from rock 'n' roll to blues and jazz, has died after suffering a heart attack, his official website said on Saturday.

Cale, 74, won a Grammy in 2008 for "The Road to Escondido," which he recorded with singer-songwriter Eric Clapton.

While he never attained Clapton's level of stardom, he had a wide-ranging influence, particularly his style of playing the guitar and the songs he wrote for music legends.

Singer-songwriter Neil Young once described Cale as the best electric guitar player he had ever seen other than the late Jimi Hendrix.

"He wasn't a flashy guitar player. He was real soulful. He played with his fingers, not picks," said Brent Mason, a performer in Nashville who admired Cale.

He wrote many hit songs performed by some of the top musicians of the era, including "After Midnight" for Clapton, "Call Me The Breeze" for Lynyrd Skynyrd and "Louisiana Women" for Waylon Jennings.

Cale was one of the originators of the Tulsa sound, a type of music that drew from rock, blues, country and jazz.

"I consider myself a songwriter. ... I guess the business end is my songs and the fun part is playing the guitar," Cale said in a 2004 video that showcased his performance with Clapton at the Crossroads Guitar Festival.   Continued...