Eric Clapton has often stated that JJ Cale is one of the single most important figures in rock history, a sentiment echoed by many of his fellow musicians. Cale’s influence on Clapton was profound, and his influence on many more of today’s artists cannot be overstated. To honor JJ’s legacy, a year after his passing, Clapton gathered a group of like-minded friends and musicians for Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze, An Appreciation of JJ Cale released in the summer of 2014. With performances by Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Derek Trucks and Don White, the album features 16 beloved JJ Cale songs and is named for the 1972 single “Call Me The Breeze.”
“I would like people to tap into what JJ Cale did – that’s the point. I’m just the messenger; I’ve always felt that that’s my job. I try to interpret things so that the public at large, or at least the people who listen to what I do, will become intrigued about where I got it from,” said Clapton.
After years of admiring JJ Cale’s work and covering several of his songs such as “After Midnight” and “Cocaine”, Clapton finally collaborated with Cale for the first time in his career on the 2006 original album Road to Escondido. At the time, Clapton said “This is the realization of what may have been my last ambition, to work with the man whose music has inspired me for as long as I can remember.”
JJ Cale’s music consistently defied being labeled into any one category, but instead found influences across the spectrum of blues, rock, country and folk — a hybrid sound that has influenced a long list of artists. He was known for being reclusive. He let his music speak for itself and by his own choice never became famous in the conventional terms of the word. Instead, he preferred to shun the spotlight for a more simple existence based on his musical creations. Ironically, doing just that, and focusing on music, turned him into a guitar legend.
Cale grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and cited Chet Atkins, Les Paul and Chuck Berry as some of his earliest influences. He was often quoted as saying, “In trying to imitate them, I missed it. And I came up with my own kinda thing.” And so, Cale began playing the local Tulsa club scene in the early 1950’s surrounded by other natives such as David Gates (Bread) and Leon Russell. After moving to Los Angeles in the mid-60’s, he recorded the song “After Midnight.”
Already an accomplished guitarist with bands such as the Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith, Clapton ventured to a solo career with the release of his 1970 self-titled Eric Clapton album. Mutual friend Delaney Bramlett had given Clapton a copy of Cale’s song “After Midnight.” Clapton decided to cover the song and it was the first single from the album. The song became a chart-topping success. Clapton was quick to offer praise for Cale’s work while promoting the album. Cale had been told of the cover but said that he didn’t pay much attention until the song came on the radio in Tulsa.
Years later, in April 1976, Cale was performing at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in support of his Troubadour album release. Clapton sat in on the performance and later during that trip surprised Cale in the studio with a version of “Cocaine” that would appear on his 1977 Slowhand release, again becoming a chart-topping success.
In 2004 Clapton organized a guitar festival called Crossroads that was a 3-day event featuring the world’s most elite guitarists. Clapton invited Cale to perform at the first Crossroads Guitar Festival and Cale agreed to attend the event, where Clapton proudly sat in as a member of his band.
Cale’s entire 40-plus year career produced only 15 albums. Lauded by his peers and completely unfazed by musical fads, JJ Cale is an American icon, a craftsman like no other.
Clapton’s career, also spanning more than 50 years, has resulted in 18 Grammy Awards and the distinct honor of being the only triple inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: www.ericclapton.com
The Breeze was released JULY 29, 2014
ALBUM TRACK LISTING
1. Call Me The Breeze (Vocals Eric Clapton)
2. Rock And Roll Records (Vocals Eric Clapton & Tom Petty)
3. Someday (Vocals Mark Knopfler)
4. Lies (Vocals John Mayer & Eric Clapton)
5. Sensitive Kind (Vocals Don White)
6. Cajun Moon (Vocals Eric Clapton)
7. Magnolia (Vocals John Mayer)
8. I Got The Same Old Blues (Vocals Tom Petty & Eric Clapton)
9. Songbird (Vocals Willie Nelson & Eric Clapton)
10. Since You Said Goodbye (Vocals Eric Clapton)
11. I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (Vocals Don White & Eric Clapton)
12. The Old Man And Me (Vocals Tom Petty)
13. Train To Nowhere (Vocals Mark Knopfler, Don White & Eric Clapton)
14. Starbound (Vocals Willie Nelson)
15. Don’t Wait (Vocals Eric Clapton & John Mayer)
16. Crying Eyes (Vocals Eric Clapton & Christine Lakeland)
Eric Patrick Clapton was born on 30 March 1945 in his grandparents’ home at 1 The Green, Ripley, Surrey, England. He was the son of 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton (b. 7 January 1929, d. March 1999) and Edward Walter Fryer (b. 21 March 1920, d. 1985), a 24-year-old Canadian soldier stationed in England during World War II. Before Eric was born, Fryer returned to his wife in Canada. Eric was raised in a musical household. His grandmother played piano and his uncle and mother both enjoyed listening to the sounds of the big bands. Pat later told Eric’s official biographer, Ray Coleman, that his father was a gifted musician, playing piano in several dance bands in the Surrey area. By 1958, Rock and Roll had exploded onto the world. For his 13th birthday, Eric asked for a guitar. Finding the inexpensive German-made Hoyer difficult to play – it had steel strings – he put it aside. In 1961, when he was 16, Eric began studying at the Kingston College of Art on a one-year probation. He was expelled at the end of that time for lack of progress as he had not submitted enough work. The reason? Guitar playing and listening to the blues dominated his waking hours.
Typical of his introspective nature, Eric looked beneath the surface and explored the roots of rock in American Blues. The blues also meshed perfectly with his self-perception as an outsider and of being “different” from other people. Sometime in 1962, he asked for his grandparents’ help in purchasing a Â£100 electric double cutaway Kay (a Gibson ES-335 clone) after hearing the electric blues of Freddie King, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and others. Eric spent his early days in music busking around Richmond and Kingston, he also began spending time in London and the West End. In early 1963, 17 year-old Eric joined his first band, The Roosters. Following the band’s demise in August 1963, he spent one month in the pop-oriented Casey Jones and The Engineers. Before turning to music as a full-time career, he supported himself as a laborer at building sites, working alongside his grandfather, a master bricklayer and plasterer.
In October 1963, Keith Relf and Paul Samwell-Smith recruited him to become a member of The Yardbirds because Clapton was the most talked about guitar player on the R&B pub circuit. During his 18-month tenure with The Yardbirds, he earned his nickname, Slowhand, and recorded his first albums: Five Live Yardbirds and Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds. The band also recorded the single, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. But, Eric had not abandoned his serious research into the American Blues. When The Yardbirds began moving towards a more commercial sound with “For Your Love”, he quit. His path in music was the blues. In April 1965, John Mayall invited Eric to join his band, John Mayall’sBluesbreakers. After leaving the Bluesbreakers for a second and final time in July 1966, Eric teamed up with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to form Cream. In the summer of 1970, Eric formed Derek and the Dominos with Jim Gordon, Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock from Delaney & Bonnie’s band.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, albums and tours would follow year in and year out. In 1985, Clapton found a new audience following his performance at the worldwide charity concert, Live Aid. Annual stands at the Royal Albert Hall and successful albums like August, Journeyman and the Crossroads box set kept him well in the public mind. In the late 80s, he carved out a second career as the composer of film scores. His career went from strength to strength and reached new heights in 1992 with the release of Unplugged and the Grammy winning single, “Tears In Heaven.” In 1994, Eric returned to his blues roots with the release of From The Cradle. 1997 brought an excursion into electronica with the release of TDF’s Retail Therapy.
In 1998, he released the soul-influenced Pilgrim, his first album of all new material in nine years. In 2000, he continued his love affair with the blues when he recorded an album with American blues legend, B.B. King. Riding With The King was released in June and within three weeks of release, was certified gold. Reptile was released in March 2001. In late 2002, he began to record a new studio album. Work continued through the summer of 2003 and enough material was recorded for two albums. In addition to new solo material, Eric recorded covers of Robert Johnson songs during these sessions. The Johnson songs were assembled and in March 2004, Eric’s tribute album, Me and Mr. Johnson was released. The solo material recorded during these sessions was released in 2005 on Back Home. In his more than 40 year career, Eric Clapton has received many awards. He is the only triple inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (as a member of both the Yardbirds and Cream and as a solo artist). He has also won or shared in eighteen Grammy Awards.
Eric has also contributed to numerous artists’ albums over the decades. The most well known session occurred in September 1968, when he added guitar to George Harrison’s composition, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It is on the album, The Beatles (best known as “The White Album”). He can also be heard on albums by Aretha Franklin, Steven Stills, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono), Ringo Starr, Sting, and Roger Waters. Eric has always toured extensively performing thousands of concerts around the globe. Recent solo world tours took place in 2001, 2004 and 2006 / 2007 and a 27 date Summer Tour in 2008 which visited the eastern U.S., Canada and Europe. Additionally, in February 2008 Eric performed three concerts with long-time friend Steve Winwood at New York’s Madison Square Garden. More info at: www.EricClapton.com