The Tragic Life Story Of Jim Gordon From Derek And The Dominos

Rock history is filled with numerous tragedies. From the Who and Pearl Jam’s concert disasters resulting in brutal deaths to losing rock icons such as Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix to overdoses, there’s no doubt that fame comes with a price and doesn’t leave until it gets the best of many talented yet unfortunate rockers.

Pink Floyd also had a tragedy in their own right, losing frontman Syd Barrett too soon before the singer got the chance to prove to the industry what musical gems he had reserved in the depths of his mind. It was reported by the late 60s that the rocker became detached from his surroundings, abused LSD daily, and his stubborn nature didn’t make things easy for his bandmates.

Rumors then started getting worse as people claimed that Syd had undiagnosed schizophrenia. These claims were debunked by Barrett’s sister, Rosemary, who clarified that her brother didn’t have any underlying problems regarding mental health. Still, it was apparent that something was off with the Pink Floyd icon.

However, in the end, Barrett had a peaceful life as he lived in his mother’s Cambridge home, drawing paintings and tending to his dear garden until he passed away in 2006. Things had gotten lucky for Syd later in life, as he enjoyed a quiet life away from the spotlight. However, a particular rocker wouldn’t be as fortunate.

Jim Gordon, born James Gordon, was the drummer of Eric Clapton‘s relatively short-lived project, Derek and the Dominos. Although the project was brief, the band produced one of the most popular tracks of its time, ‘Layla,’ a timeless ballad Clapton wrote for Pattie Boyd. Gordon was credited as a co-writer and composing eccentric piano tunes for the song.

Before the band was formed, however, Jim was already well-known as an established session drummer, and his talent in drumming helped him his way into Clapton’s inner circle with ease. After the band called it quits, however, Gordon didn’t disappear from the public light right away; on the opposite, things went reasonably well with his career.

The drummer worked with numerous rock icons, including Joe Cocker, Harry Nilsson, George Harrison, and Frank Zappa. He’d often tour with Cocker, even having the chance to play and record for Alice Cooper‘s second studio album in 1976. So, with all of Gordon’s bright and promising resume, you might wonder where things took a turn for the worse.

A common problem with rockers was, and still is, that they often struggle with addiction, and Gordon was no exception. However, his addiction problems weren’t what ruined him eventually; it was the fact that he was an addict that led doctors to undersee Gordon’s real problem: schizophrenia. It was even told that the drummer tried to starve himself only because the voices in his head told him so.


Medical professionals, however, brushed off all these as the result of excessive alcohol usage, treating him for alcohol addiction. However, things came to a halt in the early 80s when Gordon took a hammer and hit his 72-year-old mother with it.

The once-bright-rocker, who couldn’t battle his underlying disease on his own, then fatally stabbed his mother and was quickly taken into custody by law enforcement. When asked why he’d murdered his mother, Gordon reportedly disclosed that the voices in his head told him to hurt his mother.

Even though he was diagnosed with schizophrenia later on, the court didn’t allow him to plead the insanity plea due to the recent revisions of the Californian acts at the time. Gordon was found guilty and given sixteen years to life in prison with the possibility of parole. However, despite several parole hearings, he failed to appear in each of them and was denied.

Gordon was rediagnosed with schizophrenia in recent years, as professionals reportedly stated that he could be a dangerous individual if he didn’t take medication properly. The rocker is currently serving his time and getting the proper treatment in a psychiatric prison in California.

Ultimately, a bright drummer who had been credited with co-writing a timeless hit and played along with numerous rock icons was lost to undiagnosed mental health issues. So, one cannot help but wonder what would’ve happened if Gordon had been diagnosed and treated properly; perhaps, he wouldn’t have self-harmed, committed a brutal murder, and spent his years in prison.

This shows how important it is to take mental health problems seriously and always contact properly-trained and trusted medical professionals whenever you or a loved one is in need.