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J.J. Cale, Writer of ‘After Midnight,’ Dies at Age 74

Musician J.J. Cale
This file photo shows American musician J.J. Cale performing live at the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam in 1974. The singer and guitarist died yesterday in La Jolla, California, after a heart attack. He was 74-years-old. Photographer: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns via Getty Images

J.J. Cale, a musician who wrote two of Eric Clapton’s biggest hits, has died at the age of 74.

The news was broken on Cale’s Facebook page. His official website has now also been updated to say the singer and guitarist died yesterday at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California, after having a heart attack.

Cale influenced Mark Knopfler and also Clapton, who covered his songs “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.”

Cale also had hit albums in his own name, with a blend of country, rock, boogie and folk very often said to be “laid-back.” The releases of the 1970s are especially fine, with “Okie” in 1974 and its follow-up “Troubadour” his peak performances.

The Oklahoma-born Cale worked with acts such as Delaney & Bonnie before starting a solo career.

Cale was an understated figure whose Twitter account followed nobody and had only 880 followers. His handle was @slowerbaby and his sole post, in 2009, simply said “I make rock n roll records.”

He was a guitar player who avoided show -- the underrated guitarists' underrated guitarist -- and yet crafted economical, outstanding rock solos, especially when dueling with his friend Clapton.

Fans gave a warm reception to the duo’s joint album “The Road to Escondido” in 2006 with songs such as “Danger.” The album also featured the late keyboardist Billy Preston and now serves as a good way to remember Cale’s musicianship.

Cale’s website says that no services are planned.

“Donations are not needed,” it says, “but he was a great lover of animals so, if you like, you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter.”

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