I'll freely confess that I first came across ol' JJ through the works of one Clapton, E, Cocaine and After Midnight. I imagine the same would be true of most, but I was lucky enough to have schoolfriends with the pockets to pursue further to source, opening up dusty and windblown originals, exuding faded workwear and a consummate lack of fashion, meaning he was never quite in style. Or out, ploughing a timeless unchanging farrow of bluesy folky choogle over 4 decades, one I was happy to dip in and out of right up until his last release, 2009's Roll With It.
There seems some uncertainty as to even his real name, various stories existing, but it was probably John, initialised to avoid confusion with a certain welsh viola whizz.
Born in 1938, single-handedly he gifted his home town, Tulsa, with it's own identifiable style of music, the Tulsa Sound, most likely played in Tulsa Time, a laid back minimalist shuffle. Having failed to make any name for himself, he was on the verge of quitting when Clapton lifted his songs (and, arguably, one aspect of his own style) from him, on his 1970 recording of After Midnight. Compare it with the original . (Inevitably, there would come times when they would play it together , with this particular clip giving a snippet of each of their thoughts around it.)
Another artist who undoubtedly channels much of the same feel is Mark Knopfler, whom some accuse of basing his entire career on similar mumbled vocals with a singing finger and thumbpicked guitar over a railroad rhythm track. (Sorry, some of you are no doubt ahead of me here, so, for you, here's his version, again with Eric Clapton)
He died, aged 74, of heart failure. R.I. P. JJ, long may your legacy live. After midnight and into every day henceforward..
(P.S. I noticed in my youtube forays that frequent questions are raised as to who the omnipresent female guitarist in his live shows could be? Well, she is Christine Lakeland, his widow, who co-wrote many of his songs. I couldn't find a version of After Midnight by her alone, but the song highlighted in unmistakeably from the same lode.Go search, there are a couple of albums out there.)
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