Jim Gordon

8Mile

Platinum Member
I couldn't find a thread in the Drummers forum dedicated to Jim, other than an old one from a couple years ago that never got a reply.

There was a thread larryace started last year about Jim's mental illness and the tragic circumstances that followed.

But what I came here to talk about is how f***ng good this guy was. I've been digging up some of the classics he played on (and there are a ton) and, man, he was just a spectacular, ahead-of-his-time musician.

The guy played on The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. He played on Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown. He played on Derek and The Dominoes' Layla and he co-wrote the piano coda that the song ends with. He played on Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman. He played on Carly Simon's You're So Vain. And Steely Dan's Ricki Don't Lose That Number. Traffic's Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson album. Alice Cooper's Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. He did Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour. He played on Zappa's Apostrophe. He played on George Harrison's first solo album.

I'm just scratching the surface here.

His touch, his time, his DRUM SOUND... just incredible. So comfortable in so many styles of music, just playing for the song. The tag "studio drummer" often carries with it the connotation of someone who's too polished or refined. Not Jim Gordon! He had so much soul.

Not enough discussion about this guy's musical contributions.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Cool thread Larry. His isn't a household name. All those songs you mentioned are all very special in their own way. He was a large part of that. I didn't know he did Layla. His drumming was the kind of drumming that let the others excel. That's the goal right there, in my book.

This would be a good place to consolidate everything Jim Gordon. To me he belongs in a class like Benny Benjamin, hugely influential, hardly known. Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner belong too, but they've received some accolades and recognition. I don't know much about him except he suffered from mental issues. All the best musicians of the time used him and that is the highest compliment a drummer can receive IMO.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Yes Jim Gordon!

.....3rd in line to Hal and Keltner. Hal handed him any of the extra work he could not handle and that got Jim started. You're right though, definitely a Benny Benjamin behind the scenes guy. For many, Derek and the Dominos is a guitar record, but its actually some of the best drumming on any Clapton album, or any album period, thanks to Gordon. That was a great line-up for EC. Loved his Camcos too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWGa9TSIcfA
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
I too am a big Jim Gordon fan.I loved his drum sound which was his signature.he also played on Souther,Hillman and Furays album.There's also a Dominoes live at the Fillmore album,where he does a solo on" Let it Rain".

I just recently,re read Eric Claptons auto bio,and Slowhand says that Jim was the BEST drummer he ever played with.Imagine that and Clapton is a man who can pick a drummer.

Miss ya Jim.

Steve B
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Wow Eric said that? Compliments don't get much higher than that. His drumming feels so good, it just goes right by. No matter what chops a person has, the guitarist will always go with the good feeling drummer everytime. That's what I know to be true in my world. So it doesn't matter if you have killer chops, what really matters is how good can you make the music feel. Chops help, they are not essential necessarily, and they have to be in the proper measure. Feel is King.
 

Brian

Gold Member
Wow Eric said that? Compliments don't get much higher than that. His drumming feels so good, it just goes right by. No matter what chops a person has, the guitarist will always go with the good feeling drummer everytime. That's what I know to be true in my world. So it doesn't matter if you have killer chops, what really matters is how good can you make the music feel. Chops help, they are not essential necessarily, and they have to be in the proper measure. Feel is King.
Yeah, EC has always felt that way. Same with Jim Keltner..both knew Jim Gordon was on another level.

Here's my favorite Jim Gordon recording. He's unrelenting with the slick ride cymbal work. Unless you are really old, most people don't understand that DATD were way ahead of their time and people didn't understand what was going on. :) There's actually a bootleg of Layla in Tampa FL, December 1970..., where you could hear the guy recording yelling, 'What the hell is this?!" :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kpTDIiwxps
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Yes, he has a great musical feel and has probably forgotten more hits than most people will ever get to play on. But I get uneasy heaping praise on someone who bashed his mother's head with a hammer and then stabbed her to death with a knife because of psychosis or the voices in his head. Mark David Chapman heard voices as well, but his name evokes anger, rather than pity or tragedy. I admit I have a double standard with this 'talent gap' as well, though I stop short of dismissing Gordon's actions as beyond his control.

Even so, I found this story encouraging, a kind of redemption:

http://fresnoalliance.com/wordpress/?p=4680

-John
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Wow John fantastic article. Pure gold. What a tragedy he is incarcerated. He still has "it' too. How can something be so wonderful and so tragic simultaneously?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I just had a great idea. Would it not be cool if we started an online petition to get Jim Gordon out of jail. That would be so satisfying. Kind of a thank you for everything he gave us. Any advise on how to implement that would be appreciated. I mean, if that act, killing his mother, is the only violent thing the man ever did in his whole life, well maybe it was a freak occurrence that was beyond his control at the time, given his mental condition and the state of mental health treatment in those days.. He served a lot of time. Close to thirty years, right? That's a lot. I don't think he's a danger to society. He's an older man now. I'm betting the guy isn't going to kill anyone anymore. That would be such a great thing if we could pull this off. I feel it's our duty and responsibility to at least try. I want him as a member here so bad, just so his knowledge doesn't fade away. I want to do this.

I'm serious about this. I think we should put all of Drummerworlds weight and influence behind this. This should be a call to arms. It's a travesty that he is still in jail. He paid his price, he's square with the house IMO. So.....

Who's with me!?
 

JohnW

Silver Member
I would sign something that would have a review of his case. That he has been closely monitored for 30 years is probably a factor in keeping him from hurting himself or others. Now I don't see jail as a solution for him, but I also don't think just letting him free without supervision would work either. Someone with experience handling mental health issues and how it affects recidivism in violent crimes would have a better idea.

Ed Blackwell's daughter Nearin is another tragic case. She stabbed her boyfriend, who allegedly abused her, to death in 2005:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/FREE-NEARIN-BLACKWELL/108156939222506

In both of these cases there are factors we don't know about; just what we read. But they should be brought out into the daylight.

-John
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Yes, he has a great musical feel and has probably forgotten more hits than most people will ever get to play on. But I get uneasy heaping praise on someone who bashed his mother's head with a hammer and then stabbed her to death with a knife because of psychosis or the voices in his head. Mark David Chapman heard voices as well, but his name evokes anger, rather than pity or tragedy. I admit I have a double standard with this 'talent gap' as well, though I stop short of dismissing Gordon's actions as beyond his control.

Even so, I found this story encouraging, a kind of redemption:

http://fresnoalliance.com/wordpress/?p=4680

-John
I actually read that story before starting this thread. Very cool.

Speaking only for myself, Mark David Chapman's name doesn't evoke anger from me any more than Gordon's does. I studied abnormal psychology in college and I think that experience has influenced my take on matters involving serious mental illness.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I just had a great idea. Would it not be cool if we started an online petition to get Jim Gordon out of jail. [/SIZE]
I'm not sure, but I think its been done, or one existed at one time, in California. He was just up for parole a little while ago. If I recall reported in Rolling Stone.

Nevertheless, it would be cool to start another one and here at DW would be a great place to start. How do we all e-sign?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I recently shared my intentions with a fellow band mate. He told me that Jim Gordon has a lot of money from royalties, and if it was possible for him to get out, he already has the monetary resources to do so. I don't know if that is factual. He allegedly has a co writing credit for "Layla" as far as I understand.

And since he is so closely supervised, perhaps this is the reason that he hasn't been violent. Once someone with mental health issues finds a drug that actually helps them, after they take it a while and start to feel good, they feel they no longer need it, and the cycle repeats itself. I don't know enough about Jim's condition to understand exactly what he's enduring.

I just think it's a damn shame that his talent is just sitting there, unused.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
I recently shared my intentions with a fellow band mate. He told me that Jim Gordon has a lot of money from royalties, and if it was possible for him to get out, he already has the monetary resources to do so. I don't know if that is factual. He allegedly has a co writing credit for "Layla" as far as I understand.

And since he is so closely supervised, perhaps this is the reason that he hasn't been violent. Once someone with mental health issues finds a drug that actually helps them, after they take it a while and start to feel good, they feel they no longer need it, and the cycle repeats itself. I don't know enough about Jim's condition to understand exactly what he's enduring.

I just think it's a damn shame that his talent is just sitting there, unused.
Larry, I think it's a shame and a waste, too. It would be great if there were a way to objectively review his case with the goal of having him released and monitored for his protection as well as others. That's assuming he wants to leave and would be able to deal with everything including the public and press.

You may have stumbled upon this; I'm sure it made it to this message board at one time:

http://jamiethompson.net/jim_gordon.htm

The worst case scenario would be the story of Jack Abbott, who murdered an inmate in prison, but was released after having his parole championed by Norman Mailer. He wrote to Mailer, who recognized Abbott's writing ability and helped get him released, as well as get his book published. 6 weeks later, he murdered a man over an argument outside of that man's family restaurant.

Now, this is a completely different situation from Jack Abbott. Still, I think any movement to release him should move very cautiously.

And to 8Mile- I don't feel anger any more at Mark Chapman, though I still I believe it was a highly selfish act. But at the time, I saw him only as a person trying to get into the limelight without any merit. I didn't look at the mental illness associated with it.

-John
 

Ludwig USA

Member
From Wikipedia: On 10 July 1984 Gordon was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. As of March 2013, James Beck Gordon, prisoner #C89262, age 67, admission date 13 July 1984, is still serving his sentence at the California Medical Facility, a specialist medical and psychiatric prison in Vacaville, California.

So how does this work? By July 13, 2000 he had served the 16 years and then did he started having parol hearings after that? How often do they hold parol hearings? The guy has served almost 29 years now!

Ya, I would say Jim needs some help/support from the outside. If he does have alot of money, there may be somebody (Family/friend/manager) with control of his money and they don't want to help him get released.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Ya, I would say Jim needs some help/support from the outside. If he does have alot of money, there may be somebody (Family/friend/manager) with control of his money and they don't want to help him get released.
Its true he has collected plenty of royalties from Layla (co-written with Clapton) over many years. As I read he has used some of that whilst in prison. He is not rich, but the beauty of a songwriting credit is its income for life.

Its truly sad, but given his state (which none of us know anything about), he may not wish to leave the confines of prison which he knows as home for nearly 30 years. I am hopeful he's still playing music in his prison band at the very least.

I would also guess that in an over-crowded prison system, he must be quite unwell (and judged a hi risk) to have not been let out yet. They are not looking to keep people in prisons.
 

Brian

Gold Member
A few comments about Jim Gordon..

Jim is schizophrenic and it's a very challenging mental illness. I won't get into too many details, as they're well documented. Jim checked himself into clinics to receive help prior to murdering his mother. What he lacked were the required anti-psychotic medications. Those are make-or-break for schizophrenics, especially. The problem is, upon any release, there is no way to monitor whether he is taking those medicines.

Another interesting point is that he not only received writing credits on Layla, he also wrote and performed the piano outro.

Also, from what I have heard and read, Jim is one of the most , if not the most wealthy prisoner in California due to all of the royalties he has received. The man is loaded, contrary to what I read in this thread.

Anyway, a very sad story obviously, but he seems to be okay with his current situation from what I understand. Man, he was truly the "drummer's drummer".
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Great post Brian. I didn't know he actually played the outro. You know, as long as he is happy, that's the main thing. I just wish there was a way he could still make music with anyone who wants to record with him. Which there would be no shortage of. Wouldn't it be cool if a concert featuring his old mates could be organized inside the prison, just for opportunity to get Jim on wax, or ones and zeros, again? That way, he's happy, we get new stuff, the prison would surely benefit, and him and everyone around him hopefully would be safe.
Kind of like when Johnny Cash recorded at Folsom. Kinda.
 
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