James Beck Gordon was born on July 14, 1945, and died on March 13, 2023, and was an American musician and songwriter. A session drummer in the late 1960s and 1970s, Gordon was the drummer in the blues rock supergroup Derek and the Dominos.
In 1983, in a psychotic episode related to undiagnosed schizophrenia, Gordon killed his mother and was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison, where he was held until his death in 2023.
Jim Gordon’s Music career
Gordon was born in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and attended Grant High School. He passed on a music scholarship to UCLA to begin his professional career in 1963, at the age of 17, supporting the Everly Brothers. The protege of studio drummer Hal Blaine, Gordon played on many notable recordings in the 1960s, including Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys; Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, by Gene Clark; At the height of his career, Gordon was reportedly so busy as a studio musician that he would fly back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas each day to do two or three recording sessions, then return in time to play the evening show at Caesars Palace.
In 1969 and 1970, Gordon toured as part of the Delaney & Bonnie backing band, which at the time included Eric Clapton. Clapton then took over the group’s rhythm section – Gordon (drummer), Carl Radle (bassist), Bobby Whitlock (keyboardist, singer, songwriter) – and they formed a new band, later called Derek and the Dominos.
In 1973, Gordon played on Johnny Rivers’ Blue Suede Shoes and on Art Garfunkel’s Angel Clare albums, and toured with Rivers until 1974, appearing on the live album Last Boogie in Paris. Also in 1974, Gordon played on most of the songs on Steely Dan’s album Pretzel Logic, including the single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”. He teamed up again with Chris Hillman of the Byrds as a drummer in the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band from 1973 to 1975.
Jim Gordon’s Mental health
Gordon developed schizophrenia and began hearing voices including his mother’s that forced him to starve himself and prevented him from sleeping, relaxing, or playing the drums. His doctors misdiagnosed the problems and instead he was treated for alcohol abuse.
While on tour with Joe Cocker in the early 1970s, Gordon allegedly punched his then-girlfriend Rita Coolidge in a hotel lobby, ending their relationship.
Jim Gordon’s Mother’s murder, conviction, and imprisonment
On June 3, 1983, Gordon attacked his 72-year-old mother, Osa Marie Gordon, with a hammer before fatally stabbing her with a butcher’s knife; he claimed a voice told him to kill her. It was only after he was arrested for a murder that Gordon was properly diagnosed with schizophrenia. At his trial, the court accepted that he had acute schizophrenia, but was not allowed to use an insanity defense due to changes to California law brought about by the Insanity Defense Amendment Act.
On July 10, 1984, Gordon changed into sentenced to 16 years of life imprisonment. He was first eligible for parole in 1991 but has been turned down several times because he never attended a parole hearing. In 2014, he refused to attend his hearing and his parole was denied until at least 2018. A Los Angeles deputy district attorney said at the hearing that he is still “severely mentally disabled” and “poses a danger if he misses his medication shall not be used”. In November 2017, Gordon was re-diagnosed with schizophrenia. On March 7, 2018, Gordon was paroled for the tenth time and would become eligible again in March 2021. As of 2023, he is serving his sentence at the California Medical Facility, a medical and psychiatric prison in Vacaville, California. He died in Lockup on thirteen March 2023.