VACAVILLE, CA (CelebrityAccess) – Jim Gordon, a sought-after session drummer for the likes of Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and others died Monday (March 13) at the state-run California Medical Facility after a long incarceration. Gordon was diagnosed with schizophrenia after murdering his mother in 1983 and had a life-long battle with mental illness. He was 77.
Rolling Stone reports Gordon’s publicist, Bob Merlis confirmed his death in a statement, stating that he died of natural causes.
Born James Beck Gordon in 1945, he grew up in the Sherman Oaks, CA area. He became a member of a group of session players called the Wrecking Crew and worked under the tutelage of drum legend Hal Blaine.
Gordon was a founding member of Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos and was one of the main drummers on Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. He also appeared on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Carly Simon’s hit song, “You’re So Vain.”
Gordon is also credited with co-writing the famous piano coda for the Clapton hit, “Layla.” RS reports that organist Bobby Whitlock has since made a plagiarization claim that Gordon stole it from his ex-girlfriend, Rita Coolidge, who also accused Gordon of physical abuse.
Throughout his career, he collaborated with the likes of Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Glen Campbell, and many others. Via the website, whosampled.com, his drum beats have been used by the likes of Jay-Z and Nas.
His fall from grace came in the form of murder. He was tried and convicted in the brutal fatal stabbing (and use of hammer) of his mother, Osa Marie Gordon, aged 71, on June 3, 1983. It was after his arrest that doctors made the diagnosis of schizophrenia, which due to state law at the time – insanity couldn’t be used as a defense in the case.
In an interview with RS in 1985 (two years after the murder), Gordon said, “I wanted to stay away from her. I had no choice. It was so matter-of-fact, like I was being guided like a zombie. She wanted me to kill her and good riddance to her.”
He had confessed to law enforcement at the time of his arrest that a voice inside his head told him to do it. He was ultimately sentenced to 16 years to life in a state prison.
His incarceration began in 1984 and he was denied parole ten times between 1991 and 2018. Before his tenth and final parole hearing, Gordon’s attorney Jeffrey Hall said, “I think he would be a threat to himself if he were released,” concluding, “I think he’d hurt somebody else.”
According to Billboard, Gordon’s daughter Amy Schief (who has had no contact with her father) said at the time, “Certainly our family has been traumatized by what happened. But it’s been so many years and it doesn’t really seem like he’s going anywhere at this point.”