Remembering Joey Jordison, One Year Later
It hardly feels like it was only a year ago that former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison had died at only 46 years old. Though he had not been a member of the Iowa nonet for nearly a decade at the time of his passing, Jordison left an undeniable mark on extreme music as a whole.
Jordison came from humble beginnings, playing with groove metal outfit Modifidous and pornogrinders Anal Blast (alongside late Slipknot bassist Paul Gray) before he joined the masked Des Moines nü-metal unit for their first release, the Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. demo in 1996. Then, in 1999, Slipknot released their self-titled debut, and the rest is history.
Upon its release, Kerrang! dubbed Slipknot — the result of producer Ross Robinson and a collection of songs that Slipknot had reworked numerous times since their 1995 formation — “the essential sound of 1999.” Not everyone loved the album, but various reports from the time all agree: Slipknot was undeniably special, and were about to make waves.
As the third member to join Slipknot, a band he would remain in until 2013, Jordison’s remarkable drumming stood out even among the weirdo extremity of his bandmates. From the self-titled’s first proper song “(sic)” to the anthemic skins-bashing of Iowa‘s “People = Shit” and “The Heretic Anthem” to the radio-friendly bombast of Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses‘ “Before I Forget,” Jordison’s playing was a constant blast of energy that cut straight through the cataclysmic sounds.
#1 parted ways with Slipknot in 2013, when he was fired from the band. Shortly before he left, it was revealed that Jordison suffered from transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder caused by an inflammation of the spinal cord. He alleged that he was fired from Slipknot’s ranks over conditions relating to the illness, which robbed him of his ability to play drums at times.
In addition to Slipknot, Jordison’s immense legacy includes time as the guitarist of horror punks Murderdolls with Wednesday 13, extreme metal supergroup Sinsaenum, the short-lived Scar the Martyr, and Vimic, whose debut may never see the light of day.
Of course, these are all tangible achievements by Jordison. But while they’re enough to fill a book on their own, his influence and ability are different beasts entirely. When he died, a sea of rockers from all eras shared their memories and deep love of his music. Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack remembered Jordison and Murderdolls for taking BVB on their first UK run, while Trivium drummer Alex Bent tweeted that “to call him an inspiration would be an understatement. Countless hours studying every move behind the kit. I owe so much to Joey Jordison and could never imagine being where I am today without his influence.” Shinedown guitarist Zach Meyers credited Jordison with “creating an entire generation of drummers.”
It wasn’t just musicians that Joey Jordison inspired. For many people of a certain age—this writer very much included—Slipknot was their introduction to extreme music. Before death metal and grindcore, Hell, before even Iron Maiden, there was Slipknot to encourage us and our countless peers to explore heavy music. Jordison was a fucking animal, a larger-than-life figure behind the kit, one of the best drummers to ever crack the mainstream, and that didn’t change as Slipknot rocketed to new heights. For that, multiple generations have him to thank, both in terms of style and attitude.
Despite his legendary status as a drummer, guitarist and songwriter, Jordison was very much human. His departure from Slipknot was a nasty public affair—at one point he said he was fired via email and only one band member visited him in the hospital—and he struggled with addiction. Still, he was an inspiration as a person as he battled his demons on a public platform; he had no obligation to return to the kit after his ability to play was stolen by his body, nor start from square one when he was left bandless. The fact that he did says more about his spirit than any controversial interview ever will.
Jordison’s legendary status is indisputable, and his legacy echoes forever. It already feels like he has been canonized in metal lore for decades, proof that he was a giant in life whose influence was felt throughout his entire career. There will never be another musician quite like Joey Jordison.