Jim Gordon, a drummer who played on Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and other assorted love songs and the Beach Boys animal sounds, died Monday at the age of 77. The musician, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was serving a prison sentence for killing his mother in 1983, died at a public medical facility in Vacaville, California. A publicist, Bob Merlis, said Los Angeles Times that Gordon died of natural causes.
Gordon is best known for sharing a writing credit on “Layla” with Eric Clapton, as he was responsible for the song’s famous piano coda. (Organist Bobby Whitlock claimed Gordon plagiarized part of something Gordon’s ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge wrote. Coolidge also accused Gordon of physical abuse.)
Before Layla album, however, Gordon – who was born James Beck Gordon on July 14, 1945 and grew up in Sherman Oaks, Calif. – was known as a member of the group of session musicians called the Wrecking Crew. His percussion features on recordings by John Lennon, Cher, the Byrds, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, George Harrison, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mel Torme and many more. He can be heard on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” and Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind”, according to the Time.
In the mid-1970s, Gordon began to struggle with addiction. “I guess I was an alcoholic,” he said rolling stone in 1985. “Before, I drank every evening, but I didn’t get up in the morning to drink; I would put a needle in my arm. When I stopped taking heroin, I started drinking all day. He started hearing voices in his head and in the late 70s his mother urged him to get help. He checked himself into a psychiatric hospital, where he told doctors his mother was “the only friend” he had.
“He used to talk to me about hearing voices, but I told him it was his conscience talking to him,” Whitlock said. rolling stone in 2013. “He said it was someone else. Obviously, he never quit or even cut down on his drug and alcohol use. The end result was the destruction of his family.
On June 3, 1983, Gordon murdered his mother, Osa Marie Gordon, using a hammer and a butcher’s knife. The following year, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. “I had no interest in killing [my mother]”, said Gordon rolling stone in 1985. “I wanted to stay away from her. I had no choice. It was so down to earth, like I was guided like a zombie. She wanted me to kill her, and good riddance to her.
“I had no idea he had a psychotic history of visions and hearing voices, from an early age,” Clapton said. rolling stone in 1991. “That was never apparent when we were working together. It felt like bad vibes, the worst bad vibes. I would never have said he was going crazy. For me, it was just the drugs.
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