Founding Slipknot member and acclaimed drummer Joey Jordison dead at age 46

Joey Jordison, best known as the former drummer, co-songwriter, and co-founder of influential alternative metal band Slipknot as well as the guitarist for horror-punk group Murderdolls, has died, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon by his family.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Joey Jordison, prolific drummer, musician and artist, passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 26th, 2021. He was 46,” the statement read. “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. The family of Joey have asked that friends, fans and media understandably respect our need for privacy and peace at this incredibly difficult time. The family will hold a private funeral service and asks the media and public to respect their wishes.” No cause of death was given.

Joey Jordison of Slipknot (Photo: George De Sota/Redferns)
Joey Jordison of Slipknot (Photo: George De Sota/Redferns) (George De Sota via Getty Images)

Nathan Jonas “Joey” Jordison was born April 26, 1975 in Des Moines, Iowa, and he began playing drums at age 8, even forming his first band when he was still in elementary school. In 1995, Jordison joined a local metal band called the Pale Ones, who were later renamed Slipknot upon Jordison's suggestion. After creating their own scene in Iowa, attracting a devoted following of fans they affectionately dubbed “Maggots,” and self-releasing the demo album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. on Halloween 1996, Slipknot signed to Roadrunner Records and broke through to the mainstream. Their self-titled Roadrunner debut was in fact the first album in that label’s history to be certified platinum.

With their unique and visceral blend of shock-rock, hip-hop, lyrical nihilism, and theatrical presentation (the nine-member band famously performed in matching industrial boilers suits and creepy 3D Halloween masks), Slipknot became one of the most successful, pioneering, and enduring bands of late-’90s/early-2000s nu-metal explosion. They eventually sold 30 million albums worldwide and earned 10 Grammy nominations, with their Rick Rubin-produced track "Before I Forget" winning the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2006.

Jordison played on Slipknot’s first four studio albums — 1999’s Slipknot, 2001’s Iowa, 2004’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), and 2008’s All Hope Is Gone — after which the band would not release a new album until 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter. It was during the making of that record that Jordison left the group. At that time, in 2013, Slipknot cited mysterious personal reasons for his departure, and Jordison countered with a statement claiming that he had been fired, insisting, “[Slipknot] has been my life for the last 18 years, and I would never abandon it, or my fans.” Also in 2013, Jordison’s side-project Murderdolls officially disbanded.

However, in 2016 Jordison revealed that after experiencing mysterious symptoms since 2010, he had finally been diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a neurological disease that had temporarily rendered him unable to use his left leg or play drums during the end of his run with Slipknot. It is currently unclear if this condition was connected to Jordison’s death in any way, but in a 2018 interview with Rhythm magazine, he stated that he had fully recovered with the help of intensive rehabilitation.

Portrait of Joey Jordison (L) and Wednesday 13 of hard rock group Murderdolls in 2010. (Photo: Rob Monk/Metal Hammer Magazine/Future via Getty Images/Team Rock via Getty Images)
Portrait of Joey Jordison (L) and Wednesday 13 of hard rock group Murderdolls in 2010. (Photo: Rob Monk/Metal Hammer Magazine/Future via Getty Images/Team Rock via Getty Images) (Metal Hammer Magazine via Getty Images)

Along with his work in Slipknot and Murderdolls, Jordison — whose influences included Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, the Who’s Keith Moon, KISS’s Peter Criss, Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich — played in Scar the Martyr, Vimic, and Sinsaenum. He also collaborated with Rob Zombie, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Korn, Ministry, Otep, and Satyricon. During his career, Jordison received many accolades for his drumming, including a Golden God trophy at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, a Drummies Award for Best Metal Drummer, and the title of No. 1 heavy metal drummer according Loudwire readers.

In 2010, a Rhythm magazine readers' poll even named Jordison the best drummer of the previous 25 years, ranking him above the likes of Dave Grohl and Rush’s Neil Peart. He reacted to that honor by stating, “I'm at a loss for words. This is beyond unbelievable. Something like this reminds me every day why I continue to do this.”

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