Happy Birthday: Jim Gordon

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015
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Happy Birthday: Jim Gordon

Today marks the 70th birthday of an extremely talented musician and a very troubled man, but given the site on which you’re reading this piece, you will hopefully not be surprised that we prefer to focus on the remarkable amount of work he’s done over the years as a drummer and a pianist rather than the fact that…well, look, just read this and you’ll know what we’re desperately not talking about.

Gordon was raised in California and was on track to attend UCLA on a music scholarship, but he opted to take a pass on it in favor of actually making music, and given that the music he was making was for The Everly Brothers, it’s hard to say that he made the wrong decision, especially since it soon led him to play with numerous other classic artists. Perhaps you’ve heard of a little album called Pet Sounds? Yep, he’s on there. George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass? Yessir, and John Lennon’s Imagine, too.

Arguably Gordon’s best known musical accomplishment, however, is the piano he played on “Layla,” by Derek and the Dominos. You know the sad-sounding bit at the end? That’s Gordon.

Indeed, Gordon is all over ‘60s and ‘70s pop and rock, having worked with Joe Cocker, Traffic, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, Steely Dan, Dave Mason, Frank Zappa, Barbra Streisand, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Glen Campbell, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Seals and Crofts, Art Garfunkel, Stephen Bishop, the Byrds, the Monkees, and – lest we forget – The Incredible Bongo Band. Of course, that’s not all, but surely it’s enough to give you an idea just what kind of talent appreciated his talent.

We’ve put together a 50-song playlist which features songs on which Gordon played, and we’ll acknowledge right now that – like the above list – it is in no way all inclusive, nor is it intended to be. It is, however, full of a ton of great tunes, and it’s just a shame that those earlier-referenced circumstances abruptly ended his musical career, because if Jim Gordon is still viewed as a legend now, just imagine what he might’ve accomplished if he’d kept going.