Joey Jordison: Drummer and founding member of Slipknot

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The musician, whose stage name was ‘Superball’, helped the band record four albums and achieve global fame (Redferns)
The musician, whose stage name was ‘Superball’, helped the band record four albums and achieve global fame (Redferns)

Joey Jordison was a drummer and founding member of Slipknot, the nu metal band renowned for its aggressive sound, brutal lyrics and chaotic stage shows. Jordison, who has died aged 46, was with the band from the outset, playing with them through 18 years of touring worldwide and recording four studio albums.

Nathan Jonas Jordison was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1975 to Jackie and Steve Jordison. He was given a drum kit at eight years old and had been in bands since his teenage years, playing for “Rock and Roll Bowl” nights at his family’s bowling alley.

Originally known as The Pale Ones, Slipknot was founded in Des Moines in 1995. With Jordison on drums, Paul Gray on bass and Shawn Crahan on percussion, the band soon decided to rename themselves after one of their own favourite songs, “Slipknot”. Jordison later spoke about the moment Gray had invited him: “I remember trying so hard not to smile, so I didn't look like I wanted to join, I remained poker-faced, but I thought they ruled.”

Working at a garage by night and with the band during the day, Jordison practised hard, taking to the studio when the group could afford the time and money. An early demo, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996), was the result of these self-funded recording sessions and is now a much sought-after collector’s item.

Their eponymous debut album, Slipknot, released three years later and produced by Ross Robinson, propelled them to recognition as a new force in the metal genre. After several changes of line-up early on, the band had finalised around nine members for their first four albums.

Jordison (centre) with bandmates Chris Fehn (left) and Craig Jones, circa 2000 (Redferns)
Jordison (centre) with bandmates Chris Fehn (left) and Craig Jones, circa 2000 (Redferns)

Slipknot thrived on their reputation for horror-themed, theatrical shows, with each member masked, made-up and taking on a persona. Jordison, whose stage name was “Superball”, was known for his precise and fast sound and especially his use of a double kick drum pedal, which brought a signature rhythm to so many Slipknot tracks.

In August 2010 Jordison was voted the best drummer of the last quarter-century by the readers of Rhythm magazine. “I’m at a loss for words,” he commented, “This is beyond unbelievable. Something like this reminds me every day why I continue to do this.” He was further honoured at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards of 2016, receiving the Golden God Award.

Jordison left Slipknot in 2013 in mysterious circumstances. Fellow band member Corey Taylor said at the time, “it’s when a relationship hits that T-section and one person’s going one way and you’re going the other. And try as you might to either get them to go your way or try and go their way, at some point you’ve got to go in the direction that works for you ... it was one of the hardest decisions we ever made.”

Jordison at the Hollywood Palladium in 2009 (MediaPunch/Shutterstock)
Jordison at the Hollywood Palladium in 2009 (MediaPunch/Shutterstock)

Jordison subsequently revealed that he was living with transverse myelitis, which causes inflammation of the spinal cord, affecting his ability to play the drums. “I lost my legs,” he later said, “I couldn’t play anymore. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don’t wish on my worst enemy.” However, as he remarked, “I’m glad they’re carrying on the name, because what’s important is the fans.”

Jordison went on to form the heavy metal band Scar the Martyr, featuring Kris Norris, Jed Simon, Kyle Konkiel, Matthew Tarach, and Jordison on drums. The group released an album but split after just three years. Jordison then created Vimic, a heavy metal band whose debut single “Simple Skeletons” hinted at great things to come. However, their long-awaited album had been stalled several times and never made the light of day.

He memorably stood in for Metallica member Lars Ulrich at the Download Festival in 2004, taking over from the drummer at short notice. Metallica called him their “hero of the day”. Later that year he toured the US with Norwegian black metal band Satyricon when their drummer, Frost, was not allowed into the country because of an undeclared criminal record.

Jordison died at home in his sleep. The current members of Slipknot said in tribute: “Joey Jordison’s art, talent, and spirit could not be contained or be held back. Joey’s impact on Slipknot, on our lives, and on the music that he loved, is incalculable. Without him there would be no us.”

Jordison is survived by his partner Amanda Victoria, a model.

Joey Jordison, musician, born 26 April 1975, died 26 July 2021

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