Monday, March 06, 2006

More rock jailbirds

I am indebted to John 'Mr Angry' Howard for the following:
Jim Gordon was one of the top session drummers in the '60s. After backing the Everly Brothers in 1963 at age 17, he went to California. Hal Blaine, king of session drummers, began to send Gordon his overflow work.During this period, Gordon appeared on Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers (Columbia, 1967) and Notorious Byrd Brothers. Later, Gordon was a member of Derek and the Dominoes, where he had the good fortune to co-write the song "Layla" with Eric Clapton.Gordon worked with Hillman again when he was the drummer in the Souther Hillman Furay Band from 1973 to 1975.Gordon also played with John Lennon, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, Traffic, Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, and Jackson Browne. Though he was initially known for being a straight-laced guy, Gordon eventually began to use heroin and cocaine like many of his colleagues in the music business.Sadly, in the '70s, severe psychological problems began to manifest in Gordon's behavior. He complained of hearing voices, especially the voice of his mother. By the late '70s, Gordon's mental difficulties - later diagnosed as acute paranoid schizophrenia - had ruined his musical career. Then, in 1983, Gordon brutally murdered his own mother. The insanity defense having been narrowed in California, Gordon was convicted of second-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to 16 years to life. Most of his time has been served in Atascadero State Hospital. Gordon remains wealthy, thanks to royalties from "Layla" and a handful of other songs.
Tony Papard writes (see Comments) to say how surprised he is that Jerry Lee has never seen the inside of a cell. I must say I'm also surprised that The Killer has escaped the law so long. Similarly Michael Jackson - but the less said about him the better. Chuck Berry, incidentally, did not do time for allegedly snooping on the ladies who visited his club - he claimed it was a stitch-up. One ex-con I forgot to mention is Merle Haggard, who spent time in jail for robbery among other crimes.


At 1:01 pm , Blogger DaveC said...

I had originally thought of coming up with a list of all those jazz musicans who had been imprisoned for what is euphemistally termed 'substance abuse'. However the following (edited)info from Wikipedia on one Milton Mesirow tickled my heart.

'Milton Mesirow, much better known as Mezz Mezzrow (9 November 1899 - 5 August 1972) was an American Jewish jazz clarinetist and alto saxophonist from Chicago, Illinois.

However, he was more well-known for his drug-dealing than his musical prowess. In fact, he was so well-known in the jazz community for selling marijuana that "Mezz" became slang for marijuana. He was also known as the "Muggles King," the word "muggles" being slang for marijuana at that time.

He praised and admired the African-American style. In his autobiography "Really The Blues", Mezzrow writes that from the moment he heard jazz he "was going to be a Negro musician, hipping [teaching] the world about the blues the way only Negroes can."

Mezzrow married a black woman and lived in Harlem and called himself a "voluntary Negro." When he served a prison sentence for dealing marijuana, he insisted to the guards that he was black and was transferred to the segregated prison's black section.'


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