Great Britain

Joey Jordison, Slipknot’s founding drummer, dies at age 46

Joey Jordison, the drummer whose dynamic playing helped to power the metal band Slipknot to global stardom, has died at age 46.

His family wrote in a statement: “We are heartbroken to share the news that Joey Jordison, prolific drummer, musician and artist passed away peacefully in his sleep … Joey’s death has left us with empty hearts and feelings of indescribable sorrow. To those that knew Joey, understood his quick wit, his gentle personality, giant heart and his love for all things family and music.”

Jordison was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and played in a number of local bands before joining Slipknot – then called the Pale Ones – in 1995, with Jordison naming the band after one of their song titles. He featured on the band’s first release, Mate. Kill. Feed. Repeat., and the lineup grew to nine members for their self-titled debut album in 1999.

Jordison in his Slipknot outfit, in 2008.
Jordison in his Slipknot outfit, in 2008. Photograph: Photoshot/Getty Images

Powered in part by Jordison’s high-speed drumming in tandem with percussionists, and adopting horror-movie outfits featuring boiler suits and masks – Jordison used an expressionless mask used in Japanese noh theatre – the band brought drama and invention to the US metal scene. Their debut album was certified platinum in 2000, and set the stage for second album Iowa, which topped the UK album chart in 2001 and is regarded as a bleak genre masterpiece.

Jordison played on two further studio albums with the band: 2004’s Vol 3: (The Subliminal Verses) and 2008’s All Hope Is Gone, their first to top the US chart. In 2005, he won a Grammy with the band, who earned best metal performance for Before I Forget.

In August 2010, readers of drumming magazine Rhythm voted Jordison the greatest drummer of the previous 25 years. “This is bigger than a Grammy to me! You people keep me alive, I can’t thank all of you enough,” Jordison said.

He left in 2013, with the band announcing: “It is with great pain but quiet respect that for personal reasons Joey Jordison and Slipknot are parting ways.” In 2014, Jordison claimed he had been fired and was “shocked and blindsided” by the decision. He later revealed he had transverse myelitis, a nerve disease, which had affected his ability to play.

“I lost my legs. I couldn’t play any more. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don’t wish on my worst enemy,” he said in 2016. “I got myself back up, and I got myself in the gym, and I got myself back in therapy to beat this … If I can do it, you can do it. To people with multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis or anything like that, I’m living proof that you can beat that shit.”

After leaving Slipknot, Jordison went on to form the bands Scar the Martyr, Vimic and Sinsaenum, and continued Murderdolls, a side project he had begun in 2002. Over the years, he also played live drums for Metallica, Korn, Satyricon, Ministry and Rob Zombie.

Metal stars paying tribute include Serj Tankian of System of a Down, who called him “an amazing drummer and a fantastic guy”, and Trivium frontman Matthew Heafy, who said: “Joey’s contributions to music changed the face of heavy music on the planet as we know it.”

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