Drummer Jim Gordon, Co-Writer of ‘Layla,’ Denied Parole
Jim Gordon, the noted session drummer who racked up an impressive list of credits that included co-writing the Derek and the Dominos classic ‘Layla’ with Eric Clapton, has been denied parole until at least 2018 after serving 30 years in prison for the 1983 murder of his mother.
According to Rolling Stone, which obtained transcripts from his April 2013 hearing, a California board panel deemed the musician “a danger to society if released from prison,” making specific note of Gordon’s resistance to court-ordered medication and counseling.
Gordon, who was described during the hearing by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Alexis de la Garza as “medically and psychologically noncompliant,” “seriously psychologically incapacitated” and “a danger when he is not taking his medication,” declined to attend the hearing, a decision which inspired Gordon’s attorney, Jeremy Valverde, to ask for a hearing postponement until 2014. The panel denied Valverde’s request.
Gordon’s diverse list of credits includes artists like Hoyt Axton, John Lennon, the Beach Boys and Frank Zappa. He was the drummer on the session for Steely Dan‘s ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.’ The drummer struggled with substance abuse throughout much of his career. In a 2011 interview with the Telegraph, Bobby Whitlock, keyboard player and co-vocalist of Derek and the Dominos, recalled, “Cocaine and heroin and whiskey will make you one crazy dude. Eric and I managed to come out relatively unscathed, but Jim’s alcohol and drug intake was way over the top. It was pretty scary what was going down.”
Between 1977 and 1983, Gordon, who has been diagnosed as an acute schizophrenic, checked himself into hospitals more than a dozen times in an effort to battle his addictions as well as to deal with his recurring problem of hearing voices, the most abusive of which seemed to belong to his mother, Osa Marie. In 1983, Gordon drove to his mother’s house in North Hollywood, where he repeatedly hit her in the head with a hammer before stabbing her to death with a butcher knife.
In a 1994 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gordon attempted to describe his vague recollections of the murder. “When I remember the crime, it’s kind of like a dream,” he said. “I can remember going through what happened in that space and time, and it seems kind of detached, like I was going through it on some other plane. It didn’t seem real.”
In the Inquirer interview, which took place on the heels of Clapton’s ‘Unplugged’ version of ‘Layla’ winning a Grammy in 1993, Gordon admitted that the only people who had visited him in prison were his attorney and his business manager.
“I don’t blame ’em, to tell you the truth,” said Gordon. “Whatever was taking me down that road, I was on a path of self-destruction and it was nothing that any reputable studio musician or artist would want to be connected with. Because it was kind of a hopeless situation.”