Jim Gordon, the iconic rock drummer who played for Eric Clapton and George Harrison and was jailed in 1984 after being convicted of murdering his mother while suffering from schizophrenia, has died. He was 77. Gordon died on Monday in a California Medical Facility in Vacaville of natural causes, while serving his sentence, his publicist Bob Merlis confirmed.
Gordon collaborated with a number of other renowned musicians, including George Harrison, and is listed as a co-writer for Clapton's 1970 hit song Layla. He also served as one of the main drummers on Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass., after the breakup of the Beatles.
Dead in Jail
Merlis confirmed on Wednesday that Gordon died of natural causes "after a long incarceration and lifelong battle with mental illness." He died at a medical facility but was still serving his sentence.
Gordon, who was born on July 14, 1945, played on The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" album from 1966 and backed the Everly Brothers. He also featured in songs by other artists like Steely Dan, Carly Simon, Sonny and Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and the Byrds, among others.
In 1969 and 1970, he went on tour with Clapton with Delaney & Bonnie. Gordon was a member of Clapton's short-lived new band, Derek and the Dominos.
The group contributed to the 1970 solo album "All Things Must Pass" by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
In addition, Gordon and Clapton wrote "Layla," Clapton's No. 1 song from 1971. Gordon won his first and only Grammy Award for that song.
Unfortunately, Gordon's impressive career came to an abrupt end in June 1983 when he brutally murdered his mother, 72, with a knife and a bludgeon.
He was given a schizophrenia diagnosis after the horrific crime, and in 1984, he was given a sentence of 16 years to life in prison for the murder, where he died on Monday.
Sudden End to Impressive Career
Gordon had been granted parole multiple times but was consistently turned down. Before receiving a diagnosis, he had a long history of mental illness and had once abused Rita Coolidge, who was then his girlfriend, in 1970.
"Jim said very quietly, so only I could hear, 'Can I talk to you for just a minute?' He meant he wanted to talk alone. So we walked out of the room together," wrote Bill Janovitz in a biography of the late musician, Leon Russell.
"And then he hit me so hard that I was lifted off the floor and slammed against the wall on the other side of the hallway... It came from nowhere."
Gordon showed few signs of irrational conduct to his fellow bandmates. Coolidge called him "an amazing guy, just really so charismatic.
"But after everything happened, I started to recognize that look in his eye and knew that he was not playing with a full deck."
Despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia, a judge determined that he could not be declared innocent due to insanity at the time under the insanity laws of California.
In March 2018, he received his 10th denial of parole after allegedly refusing to show up for parole hearings.