Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

Who is Jim Gordon and What Ever Happened to Him?

Who is Jim Gordon and What Ever Happened to Him?

Jim Gordon, performing live.

Jim Gordon, performing live.

Question: What do these vintage albums have in common? Pet Sounds. All Things Must Pass. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Pretzel Logic.

Answer: Jim Gordon played drums on all of them.

Born James Beck Gordon on July 14, 1945, Gordon began his professional music career in 1963, backing the Everly Brothers. By the late Sixties, he had become one of the most requested session drummers in the music industry.

As the drummer in Delaney & Bonnie’s backing band, Jim Gordon played with guitarist Eric Clapton. In 1970, along with bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, Gordon and Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos. Their initial gig was as George Harrison’s backing band for his first solo album, All Things Must Pass.

That same year they went onto record a double album as Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. An accomplished musician, Gordon also played piano; he received co-writing credit for contributing the plaintive piano passage in Eric Clapton’s signature song “Layla.” Unfortunately, Derek and the Dominos broke-up only a year later, while they were recording their second album.

Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Eric Clapton and Jeep

Gordon carried on as a session drummer, playing with an assortment of top-notch musicians, but in the late 70s, he complained of hearing voices, that of his mother telling him to starve himself. His physicians failed to diagnose his acute paranoid schizophrenia and instead treated him for alcohol abuse.

On June 3, 1983, Jim Gordon brutally murdered his mother with a hammer and a butcher’s knife. Gordon was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to sixteen years to life in prison with a possibility of parole, which he has been twice denied. Most of his time has been served at the Atascadero State Hospital.

When Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon won the 1993 Grammy Award for Clapton’s acoustic version of “Layla,” Slowhand refused to acknowledge Gordon in his acceptance speech.

Jim Gordon played with a long list of musicians. Here are several: Joan Baez, Stephen Bishop, Bread, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, The Carpenters, Gene Clark, Joe Cocker, Judy Collins, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Donovan, Neil Diamond, Art Garfunkel, Hall & Oates, Merle Haggard, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Carole King, B. B. King, John Lennon, Gordon Lightfoot, The Monkees, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Tom Petty, Linda Ronstadt, Leon Russell, John Sebastian, Carly Simon, Phil Spector, Barbra Streisand, Steely Dan, Mel Tormé, Traffic, Tom Waits and Frank Zappa.