Jim Gordon, Session drummer dies aged 77 – Cause Of Death Explained

The drummer Jim Gordon, who played drums for the Beach Boys, and dozens more in the 1960s and 1970s, died at 77. He was the murderer of his mother.

Who was Jim Gordon?

Jim Gordon was born on July 14, 1945, and spent his formative years in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. He demonstrated his musical prowess while attending Grant High School, and at the age of 17.

He received a music scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1963, he began his professional drumming career, working with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including The Beach Boys, The Byrds, and Eric Clapton. Jim was a member of the “Wrecking Crew,” a group of active studio musicians during the 1960-the 70s.

However, Jim’s life took a tragic turn when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and later convicted of murder.

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Jim Gordon Cause of death

Jim Gordon, a renowned drummer known for his work on acclaimed albums such as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and Pet Sounds, has passed away due to natural causes. The news of his death was revealed a few days after he passed away earlier in the week.

Gordon had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was serving a prison sentence for the murder of his mother in 1983. The court recognized his mental illness, but he could not plead insanity due to California laws at the time. He passed away in a state-run medical facility in Vacaville, California.

Throughout his life, Gordon also struggled with drug addiction. He was a regular heroin user before quitting and later turning to daily alcohol consumption. In a 1985 interview with Rolling Stone, he acknowledged being an alcoholic.

Despite his struggles, Jim Gordon’s contributions to the music industry were remarkable, and his drumming on iconic albums will be remembered forever. However, his mental health and addiction were significant parts of his life and ultimately led to tragic circumstances.


Gordon was a highly respected drummer who received music lessons from the renowned Hal Blaine, a studio drummer with a prolific recording career. During the 1960s, Gordon was an active musician who played drums on numerous popular albums such as Pet Sounds (1966), Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers (1967), and The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968) by The Byrds.

His musical career began at a young age. He quickly gained a reputation as a talented session musician, working with many famous artists such as Steely Dan, George Harrison, and Harry Nilsson. However, he was most recognized for his collaborations with The Beach Boys and Eric Clapton.

Jim Gordon Mental health struggles

Gordon’s life took a tragic turn when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1980s. His mental health deteriorated rapidly, and he became increasingly isolated from his friends and family.

In June 1983, he committed a heinous crime by killing his mother, Osa Marie Gordon. He hit her with a hammer and stabbed her with a butcher knife. As a result, he was convicted of murder in 1984 and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. Despite repeated appeals for parole, he has been denied every time.

A Washington Post profile in 1994 provided details of the murder and Gordon’s life in prison. The article discussed his tragic descent into mental illness and its devastating consequences on his life and those around him.


Jim Gordon was a celebrated drummer and songwriter who significantly contributed to rock music. Unfortunately, he struggled with mental health issues and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Tragically, in 1983, Gordon committed a heinous act by murdering his mother. However, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has been institutionalized ever since.

Despite his remarkable talent and accomplishments, Gordon’s life and career were disrupted by his illness. His story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and the need for appropriate treatment and support for those suffering from mental illnesses.

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