Joey Jordison (1975–2021)

Posted on August 1, 2021

 Joey Jordison

I did have a book review planned for today, but I’m gonna go ahead and push that back to this Wednesday. You see, news broke this past week that Slipknot founding member and modern heavy metal drumming hero Joey Jordison passed away in his sleep at age 46. I figured I’d say a few words.

I haven’t considered Joey much in the last couple of years. I did admire him quite a bit when I was younger. Like many drummers who were my age, there didn’t seem to be many mainstream drumming heroes. Growing up, it was like the era of Keith Moon and John Bonham was a bygone time. Joey was a reprieve from all that — proof that talented drumming superstars could still exist in the 21st century and sell out stadiums.

It’s easy to get lost in the spectacle that is Slipknot (see: the masks, spinning drum risers, and frontman Corey Taylor’s general buffoonery). Nonetheless, they are good musicians, and Joey seems to be in the category of “the best player in the room”. These days, I have thoroughly concluded that the discipline of heavy metal drumming is not my thing, but it’s still very entertaining to listen to Joey’s playing.

Joey obviously had to have a rock–solid sense of time; driving a 9 piece band, it was as if his role came more from the big band tradition than heavy metal. Without a doubt, Joey had wicked chops — his double kick skills were outrageous, and it’s pretty much taken for granted that any metal drummer will have a double bass facility to the same level these days.

Joey knew when to relish in the blistering blast beats and linear double–kick fills (“The Heretic Anthem”). All the while, his playing often moved beyond the blast beat, playing tight and slinky kick drum patterns on tunes like “Duality”, patterns that ostensibly paved the way for the nimble double kick work we hear on Animals as Leaders songs, or perhaps the work of Plini.

Joey had a deep relationship with music; his first instrument was the guitar, and hearing him talk about music outside of his usual apocalyptic metal getup is fascinating.

It’s not clear just yet what complications (if any) were involved in Joey’s death. Joey left Slipknot in 2013, and it was eventually disclosed that he was unceremoniously fired via email. Joey had begun to suffer from a neuron disease called Transverse myelitis. The ailment affected Joey’s motor control, and the band (embarrassingly) interpreted the condition as some sort of addiction, according to Joey anyway.

If all of that is true, then shame on Slipknot. Joey was reported to have overcome it all a few years ago, but who can say what his condition truly was up until last week? And yet, all of this may have had nothing to do with his passing; life is like that sometimes.

For me, the definitive Joey Jordison experience has to be the live album 9.0: Live. It’s not very well produced and Corey is almost too much at times… but as musicOMH wrote, “it swiftly becomes apparent that it is one of the nine members who will take centre stage for the duration of this performance. From behind his custom Pearl 19-piece drum kit, Joey Jordison rules the musical roost with ease”.

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