Des Moines native Tommy Gordon began playing the drums in 5th grade. As a senior at Urbandale High, and then as a freshman at Grandview, Tommy would frequent the Saturday jams at the Empire Room on Center Street, befriending house band drummer Gene Jackson, who allowed him to sit in, playing along with Ron McClain, Eddie Leeper and Ronnie Brewer. While at Grand View, Tommy was invited by some high school friends who had a band to tag along as they went to IGL Studios by Lake Okoboji for a recording session. During a break in the session, Tommy got his first big break. He was showing the band’s drummer an unusual backbeat fill from James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and the sound engineers were paying attention. After the session, they offered Tommy a job as a studio drummer. A year later, Tommy formed R&B group The Bag with singer and trumpet player Rusty Davis, moving to Chicago and touring extensively. During a several-week stint at Jerome’s Lounge in Boston, Tommy took to the scene there so much that when the band left to return to Chicago, Tommy stayed for the next three years. In 1969 he returned to Des Moines to resume his college at Grandview, but after only a few weeks, a call came from the Fabulous Flippers, a soul group from Kansas, for an audition for a gig they were playing at the Val Air and college ceded to the road once again. Tommy also spent time in the early 70s with the Cavaliers and with Chase, with whom he recorded their Pure Music album along with Dartanyan Brown, leaving the group to return to Des Moines only 8 months before the plane crash which took the lives of Bill Chase, Wally Yohn, John Emma and Walter Clark. After spending time playing with Ella Ruth Piggee at the Black Playboy Club and with Sam Salomone, John Lewis & Randy Ward at Greenjeans, Tommy left Iowa for Florida in the early 80s where he had an electrical business and played blues and jazz casuals until 2000, when a serious leg injury in a motorcycle accident took away his ability to play. Tommy now lives in Livingston, Texas.
- Photos & Video