Sometimes our perception changes depending on simple actions. We create our own idols depending on things we know and hear. But when those same idols we love start to change, start saying things we don’t like, etc. we turn our back to them. What is worse is that we begin to neglect all of the things we used to like about them, even the GREAT things they have accomplished.
“Jim Gordon was my idol since I was 13, I used to follow this guy around and to me he’s the best drummer in the world..the best!!” Jeff Porcaro during a clinic at MI
When you think of the greatest studio drummers out there, names like Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jeff Porcaro, John JR Robinson, Steve Jordan and many others obviously come out. But between 1966 and 1976 the number one session drummer in LA was Mr James Beck Gordon aka Jim Gordon. Yet he doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves.
Famous hits like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”, Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and the acclaimed “Layla” made him one of the busiest and most requested drummers in music. So what happened to Jim Gordon?
Groove, timing, feel, sound..Jim Gordon had it all!
The way he could keep time on the hi hat/ride was just incredible. Listen to this Frank Zappa Live recording from 1972
Also his pocket in this famous groove later sampled for the song “Jump On It” by Sugarhill Gang
His time keeping in “It’s So Hard” by John Lennon
And here side by side Jim Gordon and Jeff Porcaro on the same track
Jim turns 73 this year and yet again on March 7th 2018 he was denied parole for the tenth time after serving 35 years in a psychiatric jail for the murder of his mother during a schizophrenia attack.
Even though his mental condition tormented the second part of his life, the impact he had on music is undeniable. His work is at the level of the greatest drummers of all time, like those previously mentioned. Jim was a real innovator who created music on drums that still manages “to move” people after so many years. His actions might hold him in jail, but the GREATNESS of his music is destined to live on.
“When people say that Jim Gordon was the greatest rock’n’roll drummer that ever lived, I think it’s true” from Eric Clapton’s Autobiography
Join the discussion 2 Comments
Yes,Jim Gordon was a great session man.Not only a versatile pro with great ears and instinct,but he had a great sound on recordings with his trademark mix of ludwig/camco drums and Zildjian cymbals.Jim also had a great right hand as well,as you can hear on his many hi-hat and ride cymbal grooves.Like others of his era,he also understood that sometimes less is more and would just slap his thighs or an object in the studio,if that’s all the track needed.It’s tragic he didn’t get the intervention he needed that might have prevented the event that ended his career.
Wow! Thank you Bob! Really appreciate your comment here and I cannot agree more when it comes to his right hand playing. There is this one song called “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” by Derek & The Dominos and I’m still trying to figure out how in the world he managed to play so fast for the entire song. What a great drummer!