Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Cale, John Weldon

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

CALE, JOHN WELDON (1938–2013).

Born John Weldon Cale but known professionally as "J. J.," (or "JJ," without punctuation), Cale exemplifies the term "laid back." His bluesy shuffle and low-key vocals, which became synonymous with "low-key cool" in the 1970s, were embraced by artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, and Dire Straits. Cale is perhaps best known for writing songs other people made famous, such as Clapton's versions of "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's take on "Call Me the Breeze." Clapton was so heavily influenced by Cale in the 1970s that the album Slowhand and its hit "Lay Down Sally" are Clapton's tributes to Cale's signature sound. Dire Straits's 1979 hit "Sultans of Swing" is also deeply indebted to Cale's fluid guitar lines and whispery singing style.

Born on December 5, 1938, in Oklahoma City but raised in Tulsa, Cale played in a number of rock and roll bands and Western swing groups, moved to Nashville, and moved back to Tulsa before reconnecting with Leon Russell. The two young musicians moved to Los Angeles in 1964. By 1965 Cale had written and recorded "After Midnight," which became a hit for Clapton in 1970. After his only self-recorded Top Ten hit, "Crazy Mama" (1972), Cale continued releasing critically acclaimed albums, touring sporadically, and remaining reclusive through the turn of the twenty-first century. Cale died on July 26, 2013.

Hugh W. Foley, Jr.


Patricia Romanowski and Holly George-Warren, eds., The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll (New York: Fireside, 1995).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Hugh W. Foley, Jr., “Cale, John Weldon,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CA010.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.