“Ease My Worried Mind” . . : The Sad Tale Of Jim Gordon

Rock music has more than it’s share of weird and tragic stories but this one is one it’s weirder and more tragic ones.

At one time, Jim Gordon was one of rock music’s most admired and in demand drummers. During the sixties became the protégé of studio drumming legend Hal Baine and played on everything coming out of Los Angeles, from The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds to Mason Williams’ Classical Gas.

He toured with Delaney & Bonnie where he met Eric Clapton, and subsequently joined Derek and The Dominos’, playing on the classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and also playing with the band on their U.S. and UK tours. He was also part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Dave Mason‘s album Alone Together, Traffic’s Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, most of Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic, including the single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”. . . .

You get the picture.

Oh, and he is also credited with writing the piano coda for the song “Layla” but that claim has been disputed by the Dominos’ Bobby Whitlock who claimed that the piano melody was actually written by Gordon’s girlfriend Rita Coolidge.

But underneath all this success, Gordon was also dealing with very serious mental health issues. Gordon developed schizophrenia and began to hear voices (including his mother’s) which compelled him to starve himself and prevented him from sleeping, relaxing and eventually from playing drums. His physicians misdiagnosed the problems and instead treated him for alcohol abuse. It was during his tour with Joe Cocker in the early 1970s, that Gordon reportedly punched his then-girlfriend Rita Coolidge in a hotel hallway, ending their relationship.

It all came to a tragic head when on June 3, 1983, Gordon attacked his 72-year-old mother, Osa Marie Gordon, with a hammer before fatally stabbing her with a butcher knife; he claimed that a voice told him to kill her. It was only after his arrest that Gordon was properly diagnosed with schizophrenia. At his trial, the court accepted that he had acute schizophrenia, but he was not allowed to use an insanity defense because of changes to California law due to the Insanity Defense Reform Act.

The Sad Tale of Jim Gordon

As of 2021, he remains incarcerated at the California Medical Facility.

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Posted in Blues, Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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