James Beck Gordon was already a highly successful drummer prior to his association with Eric Clapton. He was living the good life in Sunny 1960's Southern California, living that Hollywood lifestyle that only a first call musician could lead. He had a family and was making, at that time and even nowadays, great money for his drumming.
He then joined up with the Joe Cocker and then Delaney and Bonnie and their tours. After that, Derek and the Dominos came to be. A short lived band, it burned brightly, with Clapton more confident in his frontman role than ever before and the studio sessions featuring Duane Allman also on guitar.
As a drummer, I was always entranced with Gordon's drumming on the Derek and the Dominos albums, particularly the double live CD. He is technically masterful and manages to infuse that with a soulful delivery and surprising rhythms and solos.
His life, after the Dominos and the rest of the 70's, is a story of rock and roll excess and decline and tragedy. I'll not recount it here. It can be easily found at several sites that discuss his incarceration in a mental prison in california, found guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of his mother in the early 1980's.
But his work is worthy of study for the serious blues drummer. DVD's of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour with Cocker are particularly entertaining since they include his double buddy drummer Jim Keltner. They did a great job double drumming together, a formitable duo that really came off well together. And double drumming is hard to do, or at least to do well.
He did tons of sessions and if you are interested in listening to a great "feel" drummer with magnificent technical chops, then Gordon is a solid starting point.
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