Jim Gordon was born James Beck Gordon in 1945 Los Angeles, California, USA. James Beck Gordon is an American recording artist, musician and songwriter. The Grammy Award winner was one of the most requested session drummers in the late 1960s and 1970s and was a member of the blues-rock supergroup, Derek & The Dominos.
James Beck Gordon began his career backing the Everly Brothers in 1963 at the age of 17, he went on to become one of the most sought after recording session drummers in Los Angeles where, in 1968, he recorded with Mason Williams on the hit “Classical Gas”. During this period, he performed on many notable recordings including Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers by Gene Clark and The Notorious Byrd Brothers by The Byrds. James Beck Gordon at the top of his career was so busy as a studio musician that he would fly back to Los Angeles every night when playing in Las Vegas to do 2 or 3 record dates, then return in the afternoon in time for the 8pm show at Caesars Palace.
In 1969 and 1970, he toured as part of the backing band for the group Delaney & Bonnie, which at the time included Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton subsequently took over the group’s rhythm section — James Beck Gordon, bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist-singer-songwriter, Bobby Whitlock. They formed a new band which was eventually called Derek & The Dominos. The band’s 1st studio work was as the house band for George Harrison’s 3 disc set All Things Must Pass. James Beck Gordon then played on the Derek & The Dominos’ 1970 double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, James Beck Gordon contributing the elegiac piano coda for the title track, “Layla”, co written by James Beck Gordon and Eric Clapton. James Beck Gordon also toured with the band on subsequent U.S. and UK tours, but the group split in spring 1971 before having completed the recording of their 2nd album.
In 1970, James Beck Gordon was part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. In 1971, he toured with Traffic, appearing on 2 albums with them, including The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Later in 1972, James Beck Gordon was part of Frank Zappa’s 20-piece “Grand Wazoo” big band tour, and the subsesequent 10-piece “Petit Wazoo” band. Perhaps his most well-known recording with Frank Zappa was the title track of the 1974 album Apostrophe (‘), a jam with Frank Zappa and Tony Duran on guitar and Jack Bruce on bass guitar, for which both Bruce and James Beck Gordon received a writing credit. James Beck Gordon worked with Chris Hillman again when he was the drummer in the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band from 1973 to 1975. Some of his best work was with Dave Mason on his 1970 album Alone Together, where James Beck Gordon set new standards for rock drumming.
James Beck Gordon was also the drummer on the Incredible Bongo Band’s Bongo Rock album, released in 1972. James Beck Gordon’s drum break on the LP’s version of “Apache” has been repeatedly sampled by rap music artists.
In the late 1970s, James Beck Gordon complained of hearing voices in his head, primarily those of his mother. Unfortunately, his physicians did not diagnose his condition as schizophrenia and instead treated him for alcohol abuse.
In June 1983, he murdered his mother. It was not until his trial in 1984 that he was properly diagnosed. Due to the fact that his attorney was unable to use the insanity defense, he was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison with a possibility of parole. James Beck Gordon 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. As of 2008, he remains incarcerated. Currently, there is a petition on line to assist him in either being released from prison or placed in a facility where he is able to receive more sophisticated treatment.
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