Eric Clapton has actually arguably lived two lives. From the groundbreaking blues-rock innovation und extended guitar solos des his early arbeiten to die pop perfection of his elder days, Clapton has actually won 17 Grammys and remains die Rock n’ role Hall des Fame’s first and only ‘triple inductee’.

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Nonetheless, a major philosophical beacon weil das Clapton and the conduit zu his metamorphosis zu sein the prophet von Tulsa Blues, J. J. Cale.

While most world attribute the catchy Cocaine zu Eric Clapton und his free-wheeling ways it was indeed die criminally underrated blues mastermind J. J. Cale that penned ns tune. He deshalb wrote an additional one of Clapton’s biggest hits, After Midnight. 

Today us take notes on ns transitional genius indigenous one blues player zu another und the flourishing friendship von Eric Clapton and J. J. Cale.


J. J. Cale und Eric Clapton both imprinted die history of blues an remarkably various ways, culminating in the creation of a classic: Cocaine.

Planting die seeds

Eric Clapton was blighted in the early on ’70s by the increasingly harrowing effects of fame und drugs. Following the mighty success des Britain’s erste supergroup Cream, Clapton was God.

When Cream broke up in 1968, Clapton divulged his raising dissolution zu heroin. What didn’t help zu sein he started Blind Faith with Cream junkie Ginger Baker. Unfortunately, eine remote Faith melted hot und bright before fading in 1969, ns year of its birth.

When Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos in the spring von 1970 he was deeply bei love v George Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd und thus was living under a series von masks. Clapton together Derek, and Patti as Layla.

Clapton was becoming increasingly tired with the whole etc hero thing and his gymnastic playing was getting out von control. In fact, bei a rather obscure profession of love, Clapton once turned up zu Harrison’s house und proposed a etc battle. The winner would certainly take home Patti Boyd. Somewhat sexist und contrite, Clapton won the battle however Patti decided kommen sie stay v Harrison.

In ns early ’70s, Clapton was introduced kommen sie J. J. Cale. Ns impermeable character and humble natur of Cale’s songwriting deeply effected Eric and inspired a more concise und lyrically focused form of songwriting.


Clapton was turned top top J. J. Cale an the early on ’70s and he reflects on it together a lightbulb moment.

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“I entered that dark period in my life and was just absent, and about that time some des JJ’s early on stuff was coming out. i definitely was trying to shake off this etc legend thing, which ich thought was deswegen plebeian. It was such a pedestrian way des looking at things. I didn’t want anything to do v that. I didn’t desire anything kommen sie do with this hefty metal shit that was going on. I can’t stand the noise. I wanted to kind of lakers the virtuosity, i wanted zu get back to fundamentals, und he was a fundamentalist for sure. And so he was my beacon.”

Funnily enough, Clapton extended J. J. Cale’s Almost Midnight as his erste solo single in 1970. As a result, Cale scored a major record deal and recorded his debut album Naturally bei ’72. Widely regarded as a timeless classic, Cale’s playing setzt emphasis on relaxed grooves, breathy vocals und minimalist finesse.

In 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd would startseite Call Me the Breeze creating an additional instant hit. Yet it wasn’t till 1976, ~ above J. J. Cale’s, fourth studio album Troubadour, that die genius von Cocaine was born.

J. J. Cale defines writing ns song in the 2004 documentary To Tulsa und Back: 

“I created ‘Cocaine’, und I’m a big fan of Mose Allison…So i had written ns song bei a Mose Allison bag, kind of cocktail jazz kind of swing…And Audie said, ‘That’s yes, really a good song, John, but you oughta make that a little more rock and roll, a little more commercial.’ ich said, ‘Great, man.’ deswegen I walk back and recut the again as the thing freundin heard.”

The following year, 1977, Eric Clapton would cover it top top his Slowhand album and it quickly ended up being one of his biggest hits. During ns Slowhand sessions, Clapton and his band went to see a J.J. Cale concert, and Cale carried Clapton ~ above stage to perform a duet of Cocaine.

Much like die subtlety behind Lou Reed’s 1972 classic Walk on the brutal Side, Clapton was inspired by the deceptively sophisticated lyrics:

“It’s no good kommen sie write a deliberate anti-drug song und hope that it wollen catch. Because the general thing zu sein that people wollen be upset by that. It would disturb them to oase someone rather shoving something under their throat,” explains Clapton. “So the best thing to do zu sein offer miscellaneous that appears ambiguous—that on examine or on reflection actually kann be seen zu be “anti”—which the song “Cocaine” ist actually in anti-cocaine song. If freundin study that or look hinweisen it through a little bit von thought … indigenous a street … or together it goes by … it nur sounds favor a lied about cocaine. But actually, it zu sein quite cleverly anti-cocaine.”

All in all, J. J. Cale embodied the idealogen characteristics of somebody devoted zu their music and not seduced by the temptations des fame.

“He was a beacon in a thoughtful sense, because ich needed to know the there was someone else out there that didn’t desire all those trappings,” Clapton danach concludes.

Cale und Clapton would go on kommen sie record a collaborative album an 2006 licensed has been granted The Road to Escondido, which winner J. J. Cale his first and only Grammy an 2008 weil das Best modern-day Blues Album.

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J. J. Cale sadly passed away an 2013 at age 74 from a love attack. ~ above the pläne to the funeral Clapton started feverishly penning the lied list weil das a tribute album on a napkin. The Breeze: in Appreciation von JJ Cale remains a beacon des the unbridled friendship between two von blues greatest luminaries und the song that began it all.