Jim Gordon: Derek and the Dominos Drummer, Convicted Murderer, Dead at 77
Written by Logan Phillips on March 17, 2023
Jim Gordon, the drummer for Derek and the Dominos and countless other classic bands, who was later convicted of murdering his mother, died at the age of 77 on March 13, 2023.
Gordon’s passing was confirmed via a press release, which stated that he died of “natural causes” following “a long incarceration and lifelong battle with mental illness.”
In 1969 Gordon met Eric Clapton, both musicians played in the backing band for Delaney & Bonnie. Clapton would later take Gordon, along with bassist Carl Radle and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock and create Derek and the Dominos, the group would lend themselves as the backing band for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, before recording their own album.
The group’s 1970 double LP, Layla, and Other Assorted Love Songs would become a massive release, being ranked among the greatest rock albums of all time. Gordon played drums on all of the tracks and even played piano on the album’s iconic single, “Layla,” which he co-wrote with Clapton.
But even with the massive success of Layla. Derek and the Dominos would split up in 1971, and the band would never finish their second album. Gordon remained an in-demand drummer for many years, working with Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Traffic, Harry Nilsson, and Frank Zappa. Gordon played on Art Garfunkel’s 1973 album Angel Clare, Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic (1974) and contributed to three tracks on Alice Cooper’s 1976 LP, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell. He would also further his career by working with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Hall & Oates, Randy Newman, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and John Lennon.
Though Gordon’s musical career was undeniably impressive, his personal life was very dark and tragic due to mental health issues.
On June 3, 1983, Gordon stabbed and killed his 72-year-old mother. The drummer claimed that a voice inside his head told him to do it. After his arrest, Gordon was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was later sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. Despite being eligible for parole since 1991, he remained incarcerated until the end of his life. Reports indicated Gordon was “seriously psychologically incapacitated” and “a danger when he is not taking his medication.”