Eric Gale

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Eric Gale
Gale in Montreux, Switzerland, 1976
Gale in Montreux, Switzerland, 1976
Background information
Born(1938-09-20)September 20, 1938
Brooklyn, New York
DiedMay 25, 1994(1994-05-25) (aged 55)
Baja California, Mexico
GenresJazz, jazz-funk, R&B
Instrument(s)Electric guitar
Years active1960s–1990s
LabelsCTI, Kudu, Columbia, Elektra/Musician, Fania Records

Eric Gale (September 20, 1938 – May 25, 1994) was an American jazz and R&B guitarist.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York,[1] Gale grew up in a diverse household. His paternal grandfather was from Yorkshire, England. He had extended family in Barbados and Venezuela. Gale often visited the U.K. and Venezuela as an adolescent, which influenced his style into adulthood. He was fluent in Spanish.

Gale started playing the guitar at age 12.[1] At that time, he skipped junior high school. Soon after, in high school, he visited John Coltrane's home after school and sat in on jam sessions, which inspired Gale's readily recognizable style.[2] Gale received his Master of Science in chemistry at Niagara University.[1] He was also on the football team. Later, Gale was pursued by Frank Sinatra to work on the hit song "My Way", as mentioned in Frank Sinatra's autobiography. Gale decided to commit to a musical career full-time instead of getting his Ph.D. in Chemistry.

A close friend of Gale, Roberta Flack, asked Gale to work with her on the Killing Me Softly album. He had just finished recording his Negril album with the Wailers Band, along with Peter Tosh on vocals, in Kingston, Jamaica. During that period of time, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in the United States and it hit Gale hard; he flew out to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to clear his mind and reconnect with nature, then was able to finish an album in Kingston with his friends who understood politics and injustice. This was mentioned in the Aston "Familyman" Barrett's autobiography. After that, Flack called Gale and begged him to come back home to New York to help her with the Killing Me Softly album. Gale was reluctant so she flew the band members to him instead. After some persuading, they ended up returning to the United States. The album was a hit.

Gale often worked as a session musician, recording with musicians such as Gary Burton, Joe Cocker, King Curtis, The Drifters, The Flamingos, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Illinois Jacquet, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann, David "Fathead" Newman, Diana Ross, Mongo Santamaria, Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Bobby Timmons, and Jackie Wilson.[3] In the 1970s he became a studio guitarist for CTI Records, recording with Bob James, Stanley Turrentine, and Grover Washington Jr., and was a member of the R&B band Stuff.[4] His first of many albums as a solo act was released by Kudu.[4]

Gale died of lung cancer in 1994 at the age of 55 and is survived by his wife Masako Murakami-Gale, their three daughters, and two grandchildren.[3][5]


As leader[edit]

  • Forecast (Kudu, 1973)
  • Negril (Micron Music; Klik, 1975)
  • Multiplication (Columbia, 1977)
  • Ginseng Woman (Columbia, 1977)
  • Part of You (Columbia, 1979)
  • Touch of Silk (Columbia, 1980)
  • Blue Horizon (Elektra Musician, 1982)
  • In the Shade of a Tree (JVC, 1982)
  • Island Breeze (Elektra Musician, 1983)
  • In a Jazz Tradition (EmArcy, 1988)
  • Let's Stay Together (Artful Balance, 1988)
  • Utopia (Rooms, 1998, released posthumously)

With Stuff

  • Stuff (Warner Bros., 1976)
  • Live Stuff (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Stuff It! (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • Live in New York (Warner Bros., 1980)
  • Made in America (Bridge Gate, 1994)

As sideman[edit]

With Ashford & Simpson

  • Come as You Are (Warner Bros., 1976)
  • Send It (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • Is It Still Good to Ya (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Stay Free (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • A Musical Affair (Warner Bros., 1980)
  • Street Opera (Capitol, 1982)
  • So So Satisfied (Big Break, 2015)

With Patti Austin

With George Benson

With Ron Carter

  • Anything Goes (Kudu, 1975)
  • Very Well (Polydor, 1987)
  • Yellow & Green (Epic, 1987)
  • I'm Walkin (EmArcy, 1988)

With Hank Crawford

With Fania All-Stars

  • Ella Fue/Juan Pachanga (Columbia, 1977)
  • Ella Fue/Steady (Discophon, 1977)
  • Rhythm Machine (Fania, 1977)
  • Spanish Fever (Columbia, 1978)
  • Cross Over (Columbia, 1979)
  • Commitment (Fania, 1980)
  • Social Change (Dig It, 1981)

With Roberta Flack

With Jun Fukamachi

  • The Sea of Dirac (Kitty, 1977)
  • Evening Star (Kitty, 1978)
  • On the Move (Alfa, 1978)

With Freddie Hubbard

  • A Soul Experiment (Atlantic, 1969)
  • First Light (CTI, 1973)
  • In Concert (CTI, 1973)
  • Windjammer (Columbia, 1976)

With Bob James

  • Two (CTI, 1975)
  • Three (CTI, 1976)
  • BJ4 (CTI, 1977)
  • Heads (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1977)
  • Touchdown (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1978)
  • Lucky Seven (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1979)
  • One On One (Tappan Zee, 1979)
  • Sign of the Times (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1981)
  • The Genie (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1983)
  • 12 (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1984)
  • Double Vision (Warner Bros., 1986)
  • Grand Piano Canyon (Warner Bros., 1990)

With Quincy Jones

  • Walking in Space (A&M, 1969)
  • Gula Matari (A&M, 1970)
  • Smackwater Jack (A&M, 1971)
  • $ (Reprise, 1972)
  • Body Heat (A&M, 1974)
  • I Heard That!! (A&M, 1976)
  • Sounds ... and Stuff Like That!! (A&M, 1978)

With Gladys Knight & the Pips

  • Still Together (Buddah, 1977)
  • The One and Only (Buddah, 1978)
  • About Love (Columbia, 1980)
  • Touch (Columbia, 1981)

With Yusef Lateef

With Ralph MacDonald

  • Sound of a Drum (Marlin, 1976)
  • The Path (Marlin, 1978)
  • Counterpoint (Marlin, 1979)
  • Universal Rhythm (Polydor, 1984)
  • Surprize (Polydor, 1985)

With Van McCoy

  • Disco Baby (Avco, 1975)
  • The Disco Kid (Avco, 1975)
  • The Real McCoy (H&L, 1976)
  • Rhythms of the World (H&L, 1976)

With David "Fathead" Newman

With Esther Phillips

  • From a Whisper to a Scream (Kudu, 1971)
  • Alone Again Naturally (Kudu, 1972)
  • Capricorn Princess (Kudu, 1976)

With Diana Ross

With David Ruffin

  • In My Stride (Motown, 1977)
  • Who I Am (Motown, 1975)
  • Everything's Coming Up Love (Motown, 1976)

With Mongo Santamaria

  • Mongo '70 (Atlantic, 1970)
  • Mongo's Way (Atlantic, 1971)
  • Red Hot (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1979)

With Shirley Scott

With Tom Scott

  • New York Connection (Ode, 1975)
  • Blow It Out (Ode, 1977)
  • Intimate Strangers (Columbia, 1978)
  • Apple Juice (Columbia, 1981)
  • Streamlines (GRP, 1987)
  • Flashpoint (GRP, 1988)
  • Them Changes (GRP, 1990)
  • Keep This Love Alive (GRP, 1991)
  • Reed My Lips (GRP, 1994)

With Johnny "Hammond" Smith

With Richard Tee

  • Strokin (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1979)
  • Natural Ingredients (Tappan Zee, 1980)
  • Real Time (One Voice, 1995)

With Stanley Turrentine

With Grover Washington Jr.

With Sadao Watanabe

  • Morning Island (Flying Disk, 1979)
  • Nice Shot! (Flying Disk, 1980)
  • How's Everything (Columbia, 1980)
  • Orange Express (CBS/Sony, 1981)
  • Bravas Brothers (1983)
  • Fill Up the Night (Elektra, 1983)
  • Rendezvous (Elektra, 1984)
  • Vocal Collection (Warner, 2009)

With others


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  2. ^ Will, Patrick T.; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Gale, Eric". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 5. ISBN 1561592846.
  3. ^ a b Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  4. ^ a b Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-19-507418-5.
  5. ^ "Eric Gale, 55, Dies; Versatile Guitarist". The New York Times. 3 June 1994.
  6. ^ "Billboard". 1971-08-07. p. 61. Retrieved 2016-07-26.

External links[edit]