Cale was best known for writing Cocaine and After Midnight, songs made famous by his collaborator Eric Clapton.
Cale often played all the parts on his albums, also recording and mixing them himself. He is credited as one of the architects of the 1970s 'Tulsa Sound', a blend of rockabilly, blues, country and rock that influenced - among others - Neil Young and Bryan Ferry.
He won a Grammy Award in 2008 for The Road to Escondido, which he recorded with singer/songwriter Eric Clapton.
Cale recorded After Midnight in the mid-60s, but had given up on the business part of the record business by the time Clapton covered it in 1970. He heard it on the radio that year, and thought "Oh boy, I'm a songwriter now!"
Cale continued to tour and release new music until 2009, but he declined to put his image on any of his covers. He developed a reputation as a private figure and a muso's muso. His songs were covered by the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, The Band, Deep Purple and Tom Petty. Singer-songwriter Neil Young once described Cale as the best electric guitar player he'd ever seen other than the late Jimi Hendrix.
While he never attained Clapton's level of stardom, Cale had a wide-ranging influence, particularly his style of playing the guitar and the songs he wrote for music legends.
Cale once said: "I'd like to have the fortune, but I don't care too much about the fame."