Died: July 26, 2021.
JOEY Jordison, who has died aged 46, was a drummer whose presence was at the thundering heart of the American nu-metal band, Slipknot. The group’s musical assault was heightened by a theatrical stage presence that saw each member wear grotesque horror movie-style masks and costumes.
Jordison performed in a white kabuki-style mask with fake black blood drippings and a crown of thorns. His choice of mask was rooted in a childhood incident when his mother surprised him on Halloween sporting an original kabuki mask and a white robe. In keeping with the conceptualism, each of the band’s nine members was given a number. Jordison was number 1.
Slipknot’s mix of visceral fury and crowd-pleasing showmanship helped drag metal into the 21st century, with their albums selling millions. Their self-titled 1999 debut went double platinum. They were nominated for ten Grammys, and in 2006 won one for Best Metal Performance for their song, Before I Forget, co-written by Jordison, and released as a single taken from the band’s third album, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004) in 2005.
Jordison’s family issued a statement that said he had died “peacefully in his sleep”. No cause of death was specified.
Jordison had co-founded and named Slipknot after initially teaming up with bassist Paul Gray and percussionist Shawn Crahan in 1995, when they were called The Pale Ones. As the group expanded its line-up, Jordison went on to play on their first four studio albums, and became a key part of the songwriting team. He also produced the live record, 9.0: Live (2005).
Jordison took an explosive, no-holds-barred approach during his 18 years with the band, driving its high-octane repertoire with a martial percussive power. He deployed two bass drums, and before concerts had to be strapped into his drum chair, as he played while spinning round and tilting at a ninety-degree angle.
Jordison departed Slipknot suddenly in 2013. While the remaining members claimed it was for personal reasons, Jordison insisted that he had been sacked. Following Gray’s accidental overdose three years earlier, there was speculation regarding substance abuse.
Jordison later revealed that he had transverse myelitis, a neurological condition that left him unable to drum after losing the use of his legs. At the time of his departure from the group, however, not even he fully understood the extent of his illness.
Following extensive rehab that saw him regain the use of his legs, he went on to recover enough to form two other heavy metal bands – Scar the Martyr, and Vimic – and was latterly playing as powerfully as he ever had with Sinsaenum, a metal ‘supergroup’, with whom he played on two albums, Echoes of the Tortured (2016), and Repulsion for Humanity (2018).
Nathan Jonas Jordison was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the oldest of three children, and the only boy, to Steve and Jackie Jordison. He grew up with his sisters, Kate and Anne, in a rural area just outside the city of Waukee, where he developed his love of music by way of his parents.
After hearing Kiss and Black Sabbath, he initially played guitar, before his parents gifted him a drum-kit when he was eight. He started his first band while in elementary school.
He formed Modifidious, who played the local metal circuit supporting bands including Heads on the Wall, which featured Crahan. With other future Slipknot members joining Modifidious at points, the band released two demos in 1993.
After leaving school, Jordison worked in a music store, and from 1995 to 1997, became night manager of a gas station. This allowed him to concentrate on music in the daytime. With Modifidious disbanded, he briefly played guitar with The Rejects, and joined Gray in Anal Blast. After joining The Pale Ones, Jordison and Crahan would stay up all night plotting their band’s future.
An early demo, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996) was the band’s initial calling-card prior to Corey Feldman joining as vocalist. The band were eventually signed to Roadrunner Records, and developed an ever-expanding audience after touring as part of Ozzfest, founded by Sharon Osbourne, manager and wife of former Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne.
Wait and Bleed (1999) was the first single taken from Slipknot’s full-length debut, and was followed by Spit it Out (2000). Jordison went on to play on follow-up albums, Iowa (2001), Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), and All Hope is Gone (2008).
He also appeared in four video albums by the band, which capitalised on their striking visual image, with images of Jordison including him being elevated skywards on his drum riser.
Outside of Slipknot, Jordison played live with Metallica in 2004 after their drummer Lars Ulrich was taken ill. In 2006, he toured with Ministry, and with Korn the following year. Side projects included playing guitar with Murderdolls, a revamped version of The Rejects, which Jordison began in 2001.
In 2010, he was voted the best drummer of the previous 25 years by readers of Rhythm magazine, ahead of the likes of Phil Collins, Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters, and Rush’s Neil Peart. The same year, he won the Drummies Award for Best Metal Drummer, voted on by 6,500 drummers across the world.
Three years later, readers of Loudwire magazine named Jordison the world’s greatest metal drummer. In 2016, he was honoured with the Golden God Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. It was the ultimate accolade for one of Metal’s greatest players.