Jim Gordon, Co-Writer of Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’ & Convicted Murderer, Dies at 77

Jim Gordon, drummer and co-writer for Eric Clapton‘s 1971 hit “Layla,” has died at age 77.

The drummer died Monday, March 13, from natural causes at the California Medical Facility in Vacavillle, Calif., according to his rep. Gordon has spent decades in prison after being convicted of killing his mother in 1983 and repeated failures to show up for his hearings. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The drummer is best known for his work in Derek and the Dominos, alongside Eric Clapton. The pair co-wrote “Layla,” which appeared as the 13th track from the group’s 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The song was famously written about Clapton’s forbidden love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and Beatles member George Harrison.

“Layla” peaked at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Clapton’s MTV Unplugged version of the track went to No. 12 on the Hot 100 in 1992.

In addition to being a member of Derek and the Dominos, Gordon was also a member of the session musician group Wrecking Crew, in which he was able to earn spots playing the drums on tracks like Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache,” Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and John Lennon’s “Power to the People,” as well as The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Tom Waits’ The Heart of Saturday Night and other tracks by Cher, Alice Cooper, Joan Baez and more.

Starr Bowenbank