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
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York
DiedMay 25, 1994(1994-05-25) (aged 55)
Baja California, Mexico
GenresJazz, smooth jazz, crossover jazz, jazz fusion
Instrument(s)Gibson L5 and Gibson Super 400 guitar
Years active1960s–1990s
LabelsCTI, Kudu, Columbia, Elektra/Musician, Klik

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

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York to an American mother and British father. Interracial marriages weren't accepted at that time but Eric's father always managed to keep him safe. He had two younger brothers, whom were a decade younger than him. Growing up, Eric spent his holidays visiting family in the UK, which allowed him to look at the world through a different perspective. He was fluent in Spanish, German, and French. [1].[1]

Gale started playing the guitar at age 12.[1] He attended private all-boys Catholic boarding schools, he was exceptionally skilled at math which resulted in him skipping junior high school. During high school, he frequently visited John Coltrane's home after school and sat in on jam sessions, which inspired Gale's readily recognizable style. Eric mentioned how John Coltrane's wife would provide after school snacks and that he was grateful for them .[2][2] Gale received his Masters in chemistry at Niagara University.[1] Eric and the late Mario Cuomo Senior were dorm room mates and mentioned being the school pranksters. Eric played football there as well and played against other private Universities which he said he enjoyed. Later on in his school career, Gale was pursued by Frank Sinatra to work on the hit song "My Way", as mentioned in Frank Sinatra's autobiography (on Amazon). Gale made a fateful decision to pursue a musical career full-time instead of getting his Ph.D. in Chemistry which did not sit well with his mother at all.

A close friend of Gale, Roberta Flack, asked Gale to work with her on the Killing Me Softly album.[3] He had just finished recording his Negril album with the Wailers Band, along with Peter Tosh on vocals, in Kingston, Jamaica. 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 Bobby Lewis, Bobby Timmons, George Benson, Joe Cocker, King Curtis, The Drifters, The Flamingos, Ashford & Simpson, Lena Horne, Illinois Jacquet, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann, David "Fathead" Newman, Patti Austin, Mongo Santamaria, Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, and Jackie Wilson.[4] 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 and Fania All-Stars[5] His first of many albums as a solo act was released by Kudu.[5]

Gale died of lung cancer in 1994 at the age of 55 and is survived by his wife Masako Gale, their three daughters, and three grandchildren.[4][6]


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, 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)
  • More Stuff (Warner Bros. 1977)
  • 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, 1977)
  • Touchdown (Tappan Zee, 1978)
  • Lucky Seven (Tappan Zee, 1979)
  • One On One (Tappan Zee, 1979)
  • Sign of the Times (Tappan Zee, 1981)
  • The Genie (Tappan Zee, 1983)
  • 12 (Tappan Zee, 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

  • Esther Phillips Sings (Atlantic, 1966)
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (Kudu, 1971)
  • Alone Again Naturally (Kudu, 1972)
  • Capricorn Princess (Kudu, 1976)

With Diana Ross

With David Ruffin

With Mongo Santamaria

  • Mongo '70 (Atlantic, 1970)
  • Mongo's Way (Atlantic, 1971)
  • Red Hot (Tappan Zee, 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, 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, 1981)
  • Bravas Brothers (1983)
  • Fill Up the Night (Elektra, 1983)
  • Rendezvous (Elektra, 1984)
  • Vocal Collection (Warner, 2009)

With others


  1. ^ 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. ^ "Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  4. ^ a b Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  5. ^ a b Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-19-507418-5.
  6. ^ "Eric Gale, 55, Dies; Versatile Guitarist". The New York Times. 3 June 1994.
  7. ^ "Billboard". 1971-08-07. p. 61. Retrieved 2016-07-26.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]