Neil Young called him one of the two best electric guitar players he ever saw (Jimi Hendrix was the other), and he penned what are arguably Eric Clapton's biggest hits in "Cocaine" and "After Midnight," yet J.J. Cale never really achieved mainstream fame. Not that that wasn't by his own design. In many ways, Cale's style was and is one of those that music had to catch up to. The influential songwriter, bluesman and master of the smooth delivery died this past Friday following a heart attack. He was 74.
Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell was among the many paying an online tribute to Cale this past weekend, sharing a playlist in an entry at the band's website that calls Cale his hero, before going on: "To lose a dude as cool as Cale is not only a loss for fans of great music, but a loss for those who rail against egoism and pompousness. The fact that he was still creating incredible albums in his 70's that rival any of his earlier work adds an extra sting for his many devoted fans. I beg you to check out his 2009 album Roll On."
Indeed, Roll On finds Cale hardly missing a step. New fans can start there-- or anywhere at all in Cale's catalog-- beginning with 1971's Naturally.