Joey Jordison – One of the Best Metal Drummers in History

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Joey Jordison was a man that wore many hats (and masks) in music, but he was most famous for being the drummer and co-founder of the band Slipknot.

We’re incredibly saddened to hear of the death of Joey Jordison. He passed away at the age of 46 on July 26, 2021.

Joey Jordison was a amazing drummer, guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was an inspiration to a generation of musicians for his skill and creativity.

Though he faced challenges throughout his career. He left Slipknot in 2013 because of a serious medical condition which greatly weakened his legs and stopped him from being able to play drums.

As one of the original founders of the band in the mid-’90s, and song co-writer together with Corey Taylor, Joey became one of the most praised and reputable drummers of the generation.

His signature fast and precise sound is easily remembered and the fact that Slipknot is one of the most successful metal bands of all times certainly shows that he knew what he was doing behind the drums.

Biography

Nathan Jonas Jordison was born in 1975 in Des Moines, Iowa, in the USA. He started playing drums when he was 5 years old, playing through the school.

He was always surrounded by music, as his parents played the radio to their kids, preferring that to kids watching TV. As a kid, Joey was influenced by Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and The Who’s Keith Moon (and their frantic playing styles can certainly be heard in his music later on). Apart from drums, he also plays guitar since childhood, although he performed on guitar more rarely than on drums. 

While in high school he was a member of a few local bands in his hometown, but he hadn’t had any serious success with any of them. In 1995, he was called by his friend Paul Grey, with who he played earlier, to join the newfound band, which was later to become the Slipknot.

After their first demo album, which was self-produced and recorded, the band didn’t hit it off immediately, as they didn’t get any label offers. So, in 1998. they recorded fivetrack record specifically for record labels, which brought them wanted attention and finally a deal with Roadrunners records and after that things were never the same.

Music

Joey Jordison was an all-round musician, which he showed during his career. In the Slipknot, he was co-writer of songs, together with Corey Taylor.

Jordison, during his years with Slipknot, showed that he can play different music styles, from the trash metal beginnings to somewhat downplayed later recordings, while providing the all-needed punch to the sound of the band. 

Besides his work as a drummer and songwriter in Slipknot, he worked in other bands, most famously in Murderdolls from 2001 to 2011, where he played guitar mainly, as well as drums and other instruments as needed. The band certainly had some success, although not as much as Slipknot, and was disbanded in 2011. 

Joey left Slipknot in 2013 because of medical issues. He got sick with a disease called transverse myelitis, which is a nerve condition that impeded his ability to use his legs while drumming. No doubt this came as a major blow to a drummer that was incredibly fast on the pedals.

After this, he started a couple of projects. Apart from playing, during the years he worked on several projects as a producer, with some success, helping less known bands to record their debut albums and working with likes of Marylin Manson on some of their mixes. 

Joey also played with other bands as a touring member. Most notably, he sat in at the last minute to play live with Metallica in 2004, after Lars Ulrich had to go to the hospital, so Joey, who was present on the same festival jumped in literally in the last minute, together with Dave Lombardo and Ulrich’s drum technician and played most of the songs on the night. 

Playing style

Joey was most known for his fast and precise playing style (particularly with regard to double kick drumming), which earned him recognition and praise around the world through the years. Even though he spent his whole career in metal music, his background was not metal, but more jazz and rock music, which can sometimes be subtly heard on his tracks.

Secondly, he was well known for using technical accents and patterns in just the right amount and time. He wasn’t playing fast technical parts just because he could, but he carefully mixed them together with his bandmates playing, thus creating a unique sound.

Also, he was crucial for creating that frantic sound that Slipknot is famous for. If it weren’t for his creative use of drums, and sudden changes in rhythm in contrast to the guitars and other instruments, the band wouldn’t have been able to pull off its recognizable sound. 

That, together with his funky drumming patterns and clever use of syncopation is what made Slipknot and Joey stand out from the others. 

Drum kit

Jordison was known for using big drum sets with lots of drums and cymbals. Being one of the most respected and famous drummers in the world, he was endorsed by many companies. His used the Pearl Reference Series kit, which are very well sought after drum shells, as well as other pearl hardware (such as the Pearl Demon Drive double pedal), he also used Paiste cymbals. 

Apart from using classic acoustic drums and cymbals of all size and shape, Jordison is famous for use of electronic drum triggers, which give him even more versitility of sound when playing.

Conclusion

Joey Jordison will go down as one of the best metal drummers in history, although he probably would have argued against that title as he seemed like a very modest person in reference to his own drumming.

Rising at the end of the ‘90s, he and his generation replaced the older bands that really brought metal to the broader world, such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath, and others.

Metal drummers can sometimes be overlooked by other drummers as players that just need speed and power for play and no technical abilities whatsoever. But, Jordison put such critics to bed with this differential playing style, which, apart from technical speed and precision, he brought many different playing styles to the table in a metal context.

Joey Jordison was a amazing drummer, guitarist, songwriter and producer. We can all certainly be inspired by what he achieved during his lifetime as a musician.

Featured Image by: Gamerscore Blog from USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Mike O'Connor

Drumming has been my passion for over 18 years. I play quite a few different genres and I really enjoy experimenting with hybrid kits that blend acoustic and electronic drums. I love all things drumming!

1 thought on “Joey Jordison – One of the Best Metal Drummers in History”

  1. Great read. Joey’s one of my favorite drummers. With the exception of Mr. Lombardo. Do I have graciously followed since I started playing drums at nine years old. The hands down Joey is just an amazing drummer. I got to see him when he filled in for Rob zombie’s drummer years ago fulfill my dream and see my favorite drummer play. Right on right on.

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