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"His debut LP Naturally was one of the finest collections of songs and perfect musicianship I ever heard," says longtime local guitar god Greg Douglass of the late JJ Cale, who passed away at the age of 74 on Friday, July 26, at Scripps Hospital after suffering a heart attack.


"Mac Gayden's wah-wah slide on 'Crazy Mama' was worth the price of admission. Most of the great guitar work was by John himself. A wonderful piece of work that i listened to daily for weeks. I taught at Rich Hunt's Music in Escondido for years and would see this old ALWAYS unshaven guy walk in and get immediate attention from everyone. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this disheveled dude looked one bush & a blanket away from homeless."

Douglass finally met Cale when the almost-homeless looking guy picked up a custom-made Martin. "There was a minuscule flaw in the binding, and Rich was going to have the instrument sent back. I made some remark about how small flaws often made women more beautiful, so why not guitars. He smiled, told Rich 'I'll take it.'"

"He proceeded to take out a wad of $100 bills that would choke a hippo. He introduced himself as John and left the store. 'Who the f**k was THAT?!' I inquired. It was J.J. Cale, I was informed, and was also told never to call him anything but John; he apparently disliked the J.J. moniker."

"I got to know him on a kind of 'Hi, how ya doin'?' level, I REALLY wanted to work with him, but he had his Tulsa crew locked in. And then there was that Clapton guy. Dang." Clapton had huge hits with Cale songs like "Cocaine" and "After Midnight."


"No more tunes, but Cale wrote more great songs than most pickers would write in ten incarnations," says Douglass. "His groove on 'Call Me the Breeze' was unbeatable and made Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band I love, look ham-fisted by comparison."

"A 3-to-5 minute pop/blues/country song is the hardest thing in the world to write well, and Cale put lightning in a bottle consistently...in a pair of f#cking overalls, and never a milligram of bullsh#t. My ears thank you for the gifts you gave them so many times over the years. Say hi to my pal Lonnie Turner up there in the Promised Land of never-ending great gigs, no sleazy promoters, and no bad attitudes."

Greg Douglass has toured and recorded with Van Morrison, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Hot Tuna, Dave Mason, Eddie Money, and Steve Miller, for whom he cowrote and played on the Steve Miller Band hit “Jungle Love” (1977). Having moved to the San Diego area in 1992, Douglass also has instructional DVDs available from http://www.iconsofrock.com, one on lead guitar and one on fingerstyle guitar. He has released solo CDs such as The Natives Are Restless and a Christmas collection, Holiday Classics.

He's recently been touring Europe and elsewhere with the Former Members, alongside keyboardist David Bennett Cohen and bassist Bruce Barthol from Country Joe & the Fish, and drummer Roy Blumenfeld from Blues Project and Seatrain.

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