Jim Gordon, Drummer For Eric Clapton And “Layla” Co-Writer, Dead At 77.

Jim Gordon, a renowned drummer who played with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and many other musicians, has passed away. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia after killing his mother in 1983.

After a protracted period of incarceration and a lifelong struggle with mental illness, he passed away naturally on Monday at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California, according to the release. He was 77.

The tweet below confirms the news of Jim Gordon’s death:

As a member of Clapton’s band Derek and the Dominos, Gordon is acknowledged for co-writing the timeless hit song “Layla” from 1970. He also contributed to literally hundreds of other songs as a member of the Wrecking Crew, an exclusive group of session musicians. He also played with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends and Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” band.

He was one of the primary drummers on George Harrison’s seminal 1970 album “All Things Must Pass.” One of the most frequently sampled drum breaks in hip-hop history is his work on the 1972 song “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band.

Any casual fan of the 1960s and ’70s rock has heard his playing on songs by the Beach Boys (including the “Pet Sounds” album), Steely Dan (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”), Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain”), John Lennon (“Power to the People”), Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Nilsson, Sonny and Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, and even the Byrds — that whipcrack drum fill at the end of their 1967 cover of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Goin’ Back” was played by him.

He was without a doubt one of the greatest rock drummers of his time, yet his mother was killed because of a long-term, poorly managed mental condition.

Who Was Gordon?

Gordon, a 1945-born Californian who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, picked up the drums as a young child. He was granted a music scholarship to UCLA as a young man playing in rock bands and the Burbank Symphony, but turned it down and joined the Everly Brothers for a tour of the UK right after high school in 1963.

One of the most in-demand drummers in the industry, he got his start playing as a session musician on songs by many of the artists mentioned above. He occasionally toured with groups like Delaney and Bonnie, Joe Cocker, and Derek and the Dominos.

He had a history of mental illness, though, and when on tour with Joe Cocker in 1970, he attacked Rita Coolidge, a vocalist. According to Coolidge, who is quoted in Bill Janovitz’s biography of Leon Russell, “Jim said very quietly, so only I could hear, “May I talk to you for just a minute?”

He meant that he needed privacy to speak. Thus, we left the room together. He struck me again, this time with such force that I was lifted off the ground and slammed into the wall on the opposite side of the hallway. That appeared out of nowhere.

Gordon had quietly had outpatient treatment for his disease and had previously shown his bandmates very few if any, symptoms of it. Coolidge said, “He was a fantastic man, just really incredibly magnetic. After everything, though, I began to know that expression in his eyes and realized he wasn’t using a whole deck of cards.

But after the assault, the tour and Gordon’s active career continued, peaking with Derek and the Dominos. Gordon is credited with the piano-driven, instrumental second half of “Layla,” but Coolidge claims it is actually a song she co-wrote with him that was later released as “Time,” a claim supported by two of their bandmates.

He collaborated with several artists during the ensuing years, including Tom Petty, Dave Mason, Alice Cooper, Helen Reddy, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Johnny Rivers, Joan Baez, and Steely Dan. Yet as the 1970s went on, his actions became more unpredictable and psychotic as a result of drug and alcohol misuse.

He attacked a lover as well as singer Renee Armand, to whom he had a brief marriage. When word of his ailment spread, work started to dry up, and he repeatedly checked into hospitals.

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Gordon Killed His Mother

Gordon killed his 72-year-old mother in June 1983 after a series of frightening actions, alleging that voices had instructed him to do it. After receiving a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia, he was given a sentence of 16 years to life in jail in 1984.

He was interviewed for a lengthy article in Rolling Stone the following year, during which he explained the voices he had lived with for the majority of his life and claimed that killing his mother felt like “being guided by a zombie.” He applied for parole several times during the ensuing years, but each time it was rejected.

Amy, a daughter from his first marriage, is his only surviving child.

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