Many of you may not recognize the name of Jim Gordon, but I can assure you that you’ve heard his music. Gordon was the drummer on many of the 60’s and 70’s greatest recordings in the history of rock and roll. During this period he performed on many classic recordings including George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”, The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” and Joe Cockers “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” among many others. Gordon also played on the Derek & The Dominos’ 1970 classic album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” and contributed the piano coda for the title track, “Layla”, co written by Gordon and Clapton.
There was a reason why Gordon was on all those great recordings. He was the best. The man could set a groove like no one else. As a keyboard player I’ve always thought that when the drummer is playing the right beat, the rest of the band always sounds better and Gordon could do that like no one else.
After listening to Layla the other day I was inspired to google Gordons name thinking he was dead and was made aware of a few things. In the late 1970s, Gordon complained of hearing voices in his head. He was later diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia, which had been worsened by a cocaine addiction. By 1981, this ended his music career. June of 1983 Gordon stabbed his mother to death with a butcher’s knife. In May 1984 he was sentenced to sixteen years to life in prison. He has served his sentence at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero State Hospital in Atascadero, and the State Medical Corrections Facility in Vacaville. He is still incarcerated.
More googleing brought me to Gordon’s Myspace page where you can sign a petition asking the parole board to consider his release. I signed the petition and forwarded this info to many of my friends and colleagues and was met with some interesting responses. Most were very supportive of the petition. However, there were some who argued that it was none of our business getting involved since we knew nothing of the details of Gordon’s case and a petition was “meaningless”. Some argued that just because he co-wrote Layla does not give him a pass to commit murder, which I totally agree with.
Yes, he did commit a serious act of violence (over twenty five years ago), but has done his time and if the doctors who are treating him feel that he is ready to return to the street I support their decision. If he’s been deemed mentally balanced while medicated, has served the time he was sentenced and will be supervised while on parole and as a condition of release, possibly supervised for a time longer than his parole, he deserves a chance to prove himself, just like any other paroled killer that’s walking the streets.
As far as the petition goes, it’s certainly not “meaningless”. It offers hope and inspiration to Jim that people are pulling for him and just might help him in the healing process. It shows support. I agree that it will probably not influence the parole board much, but I would think with a boarder line case where they are weighing all their options, something like that might just make a difference.
I do admit that I know nothing of Jim’s current condition, but I support him none the less. I sincerely hope that his demons are gone and whatever drove him to commit such a violent act is part of his past. I’m pulling for you Jim and look forward to seeing you released one day soon. Best of luck with the parole hearings.
Check out this amazing video of Jim playing during the Mad Dog’s tour. Delta Lady with Joe Cocker Live at the Fillmore East, March 1970.
More info on Jim can be found at; www.wikipedia.org