As Hal Baine‘s protégé, Jim Gordon was among the most admired session drummers of the sixties. He worked on everything from Pet Sounds to Classical gas, which boosted his fame even more.
Jim Gordon offered a rare combination of bluesy feeling and professional finesse that attracted everyone who listened to him. It is the same style that powered the classic double LP Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. He has a nose for greatness, which helped him pull more people to his side. He was able to record with big names like Randy Newman and Steely Dan.
Later, he was a unique and very crucial figure in the rise of hip-hop. He fueled the industry once DJ Kool Herc began influencing Bronx dancers helping them achieve their goals. Gordon’s drum break from the most Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” was a huge boost to hip-hop’s success.
Herc recalled how everybody started searching for the perfect beat that would beat that record. But no one managed to beat the record, even today. Gordon’s work is not only that he is a good drummer, but that he is a creative performer.
Gordon grew up in the San Francisco Valley of Los Angeles and went to Grant High School. He was offered a music scholarship to UCLA, which he passed to follow his own path in his professional career in 1963.
He has already made up his mind to become a professional drummer and did not want anything to change his mind. And is the same strong will that carried him through. He loved music a lot and had been practicing with instruments from a young age.
At the age of 17 years, he was already backing Everly Brothers. Hence, he gave up the scholarship because his passion and career were already defined. He continued the same path to become one of the most sort-after session drummers in LA. Having been influenced by drummer Hal Blaine‘s studio, Gordon worked on an extensive collection of recordings in the 1960s.
Between 1969 and 1970, Gordon toured as part of the backing band of Delaney and Bonnie. He was the drummer and the one leading the team of other instrumentalists, who went on to form another band called Derek and the Dominos.
He was also part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour in which he played on Dave Mason‘s album Alone Together. He continued on other tours, including the Traffic, making him appear in two of their albums.
Even though he was among the best drummers, he was diagnosed with mental health problems in the 1970s. He was convicted and incarcerated for murdering his mother. Nevertheless, his contribution to the music industry cannot go unnoticed.