Scott K Fish Interview: Jim Gordon

Discussion in 'General' started by Scott K Fish, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. Scott K Fish

    Scott K Fish New Member

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    Scott K Fish Interview: Jim Gordon


    SKF NOTE: When Jim Keltner called me at Modern Drummer to ask if we would be interested in interviewing his friend, Jim Gordon, the answer was an unequivocal yes. It was a time when we MD Editors felt, to an extent, as if we were playing catch up securing interviews with the long line of drummers we felt deserved interviewing. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: before MD there were few published indepth interviews with drummers.

    What I didn't write in my 1983 introduction to this interview is that Keltner was asking about MD interest in a Jim Gordon interview for two reasons. Gordon's career, of course, was enough to warrant a MD feature interview. But Keltner was also asking because he thought a MD interview might raise Gordon's spirits. Gordon was feeling very low. In fact, five months after this interview was published, Jim Gordon murdered his mother. A very sad, tragic event in a remarkable music career.

    Also, MD's yes was no guarantee Jim Gordon would say yes. But if MD was interested, then Keltner would float the idea with Gordon.

    I don't remember if I called Jim Gordon the night of this interview or if he called me. What I do remember, vividly, is that it was after normal work hours and I was alone in my room at the rooming house where I lived. I was neither expecting to interview Jim Gordon at this time, nor had I done any preparation for this interview.

    That is, I was familiar with Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Derek & the Dominos, Gordon Lightfoot -- but I hadn't time to study Jim Gordon's musical career. Ideally, I would have listened to as much as possible of his music, and read as much about him, prepared a list of questions/topics, before interviewing him.

    But, as I say, there was no guarantee Jim would say yes to an interview. Our phone conversation this night was, in my mind, an introductory phone call. At first, I'm sure my goal was to gain Jim Gordon's confidence and to set up a later day/time for our interview.

    So when Jim was ready for an interview that night, I scrambled, not wanting to tell him I wasn’t ready, only to find out another day he had changed his mind. Fortunately I had a small cassette recorder, a land line telephone, and a Radio Shack suction cup mic on hand. I don't think I had any blank tapes. Instead, I think I reused a couple of cassettes on hand.

    I asked Jim Gordon my first question and then, as I like to do, just listened. Just let him talk and let the tape roll. I based my questions on what I knew about Jim Gordon, and thought of new questions based on the story Jim was telling me. For example, I was familiar with Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Mike Post, Larry Bunker, and other people and things Jim spoke about.

    Finally there was the issue of photos to accompany this feature interview. Again, we ran into whether or not Jim Gordon would be okay with a stranger/photographer taking a series of photos. We were also running up against the clock. If MD was going to publish this interview as scheduled, we needed photos.

    Jim Keltner, I believe, suggested his son, Eric, take the photos. Eric was a young guy, but MD had used his photos in the November 1981 interview with his father. So I gave Eric Keltner the green light, Jim Gordon was okay with Eric coming to the house and taking photos, and those are the photos we used.

    Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals Click Here to Read Full Interview
     
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  2. trixonian

    trixonian New Member

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    So sad... But thanks for sharing the interview. Do you know which song he solos on in the live Derek and the Dominoes album?

    (FYI - the last page wouldn't enlarge for me.)
     
  3. DanRH

    DanRH Old guy, getting younger

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    Thanks Scott. I remember reading the interview the first time. That was awesome and yes, so sad what happened...
     
  4. bbunks

    bbunks Platinum

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    Scott - me too...I remember this interview! Jim Gordon was "my guy" back in the day...so much of the music I listened to had him on drums. Beautiful player. So sad.
     
  5. sillyilly

    sillyilly New Member

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  6. kip

    kip Well-Known Member

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    Scott,
    that was great!
    I remember that issue from years back!
     
  7. trixonian

    trixonian New Member

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    Thanks!
     
  8. phoster

    phoster Active Member

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    Great interview. Was there a conscious decision not to ask him about Steely Dan?
     
  9. BillyGoodness

    BillyGoodness Pro

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    Great interview. Thanks for sharing it. It brought back not only memories of reading it for the first time in 1983, but also the Klic-Trac (ad on one of the pages). I actually had one of those back then.

    Billy G.
     
  10. Scott K Fish

    Scott K Fish New Member

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    trixonian -

    I fixed the interview last page. It now gets bigger when you click it.

    Thank you for the heads up!

    Phoster -

    No conscious decision to not ask about Steely Dan. Had I time to prepare for this interview, I no doubt would have asked other questions.

    Best,
    skf
     
  11. singleordoubleheads

    singleordoubleheads New Member

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    Amazing, Scott! JG is definately one of my all-time favs for sure. I love all of his work, but especially what he did with Traffic on Low Spark. You could tell that was Jim G from a mile away! Plus, Layla just might be my all-time favorite album (either it or Blood On The Tracks), and his drumming on it is (to me), just as great as the guitar playing.

    Plus, Jim always sounded SO GOOD! His drum/cymbal sounds are pure heaven for me. Such a tragic loss all the way around.
     
  12. bonzoleum

    bonzoleum BONZOLEUM

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    I couldn't get the link to the article work on my phone- I'll try at home.

    I always wondered how they recorded the second part in Layla. Did Gordon track the piano through to the end with the band on piano and the go back and put on the drums?
     
  13. marko52

    marko52 Piper At the Gates of Dawn

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    I thought that was a great interview, Scott. Jim had a lot to say, & seemed pretty well-spoken & clear. I think his drumming on Derek & the Dominoes is the essential rock drum sound of the time. & also think that the album is one of the best-recorded albums ever--each instrument & voice is clear. Never tire of it. Jim has 2 very distinct crash cymbals in his set-up, & it's interesting to see which he chooses when he needs a crash sound..........marko
     
  14. bellbrass

    bellbrass Gold

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    Scott - thanks so much for this. I have been studying Jim's drumming for years now. As a drummer, his style was incredible, and his tempo even better. The way he did fills and kept rhythm is, for me, now instantly recognizable.

    What happened to him & his family was tragic.
     
  15. Castnblast

    Castnblast Active Member

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    great share, thanks again.
     
  16. trommel

    trommel New Member

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    Thanks for bringing this back!

    I remember the article, but only read it once. I left the magazine on a flight from Grand Junction to Denver and just never got around to checking it out again.
     
  17. bellbrass

    bellbrass Gold

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    About Jim's solo in "Let It Rain" from In Concert: this is one of the best rock solos of all time. The funny thing is that Jim was on the fence about doing them. He had established himself as a studio guy, and wanted more of the interpretative freedom that touring with a band could afford. He wanted to do a solo as part of the act on the Derek & The Dominos tour, but I think it was more of an experiment to him. If you listen to it, he riffs a lot on the great pattern he used for most of the song. He then expands and builds on it. While this is the penultimate "70s rock drum solo - time to get a beer" for many folks, it sounds to my ears like one heavy riff-fest that gets better every time i listen to it.

    Jim's most famous solo moment, though, is on The Incredible Bongo Band's rendition of the classic "Apache." His drum break there, where he lays down a miles-deep break beat with King Erisson on the bongos, is the most sampled piece of music in recording history.
     
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  18. Scott K Fish

    Scott K Fish New Member

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    SKF CORRECTION 12/18/2015: There is good news and bad news. The good news is, this week I had an email and then a phone call from Barry Keane. It was great to reconnect. Just like old times. The bad news is, Barry reminded me that it is he, not Jim Gordon, playing drums on Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

    In my original reply below I was w-r-o-n-g.

    I had the story half right. The Gordon Lightfoot song Barry told me, years ago, where Jim Gordon's drumming really makes the song is Sundown.



    ========

    I met Barry Keane when he was drumming with Gordon Lightfoot. Barry maintains what really makes Gordon's song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, is Jim Gordon's drumming. Especially his use of his tom-toms.

    Best,
    skf
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2018 at 10:03 PM
  19. Scott K Fish

    Scott K Fish New Member

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    Just an FYI: For a limited time, Amazon is offering the complete Derek and the Dominos Live at the Fillmore album in MP3 format for $5.00. Click Here.

    Best,
    skf
     
  20. singleordoubleheads

    singleordoubleheads New Member

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    Way back in 1994, I remember being so pumped when they released Derek & the Dominos Live at the Fillmore as a 2-cd mini-box set. I had the old In Concert lp, but the cd set is expanded and a bit different. And while I'm a pretty big EC fan, I bought it almost strictly to hear more prime Jim Gordon. I must have listened to Let It Rain a hundred times LOL! Great solo for sure.
     

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