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Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | A Jim Gordon Companion Playlist

Track 192 | Hear highlights from the doomed drummer's brilliant career.

Earlier this year came the release of the biography of legendary, infamous session drummer Jim Gordon. Titled Drums & Demons: The Tragic Journey Of Jim Gordon, the book is a thoroughly researched timeline by music critic and writer Joel Selvin. And now that Spotify offers audiobooks, you can listen to it for the price of your premium membership.

If you’re like me, the book will cause you to go listening and refamiliarizing yourself with a whole slew of songs that feature Gordon. So I’ve fashioned a handy playlist of the tracks you’re likely to want to hear — and a few others as well from his long career. Gordon worked with everyone from The Beach Boys and Joe Cocker to Burton Cummings, though he might be best known for his role in Eric Clapton’s short-lived Derek & The Dominos — along with drumming on their album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, he co-wrote and played the elegiac, haunting piano coda on the LP’s immortal title track.

Gordon died in a secure California mental facility a year ago at age 77, after being convicted in 1984 of murdering his mother. He wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until after his conviction. As the book details, there were several incidents of violence caused by paranoid delusions in the years leading up to his mother’s death — one against his then-partner, singer-songwriter Rita Coolidge and again with partner Renee Armand.

The drummer appears to be a similar case to Moby Grape’s Skip Spence and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett — two gifted and inspired songwriters — whose recreational and self-medicating heavy drug intake worsened a serious underlying, undiagnosed mental illness.

It’s tragic, but fascinating — and an excellent read. Here’s your playlist to go with it:


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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.