The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Joey Jordison

To Joey Jordison, music was life. This was not just apparent because of his role as both the primary drummer and one of the founding members of the impressive metal band, Slipknot. The devoted musician was also skilled with the guitar and performed in several other bands throughout his career. But music was even more than that to him because it had been an essential part of his entire being, as if it was infused in his DNA.

Jordison's mother, Jackie, reminisced about how even at the age of three, he was drumming. She said to Rolling Stone, "He'd just sit on the floor and bang on pots and pans. I thought he had a heck of a beat for a little, tiny kid."

Music was always there for Jordison, from helping him survive high school to healing after being heartbroken, or forming close bonds of friendship. And even after overcoming great adversity later in life, he continued to do what he loved and made music until the end.

School was terrible for Joey Jordison as a kid

Joey Jordison despised school from the very beginning when first forced to attend preschool around 1979. As an introvert, the drummer struggled to make friends, so music was how he got through it all, with his headphones on as much as possible during the day. At home, Jordison learned to play both the guitar and the drums, starting his first bands while still in grade school.

When Jordison reached Waukee High, his circumstances did not improve much at school because he was picked on for being the shortest guy there at 5ft 5in tall. He managed not to get beat up but did receive a lot of insults. Plus, most of his fellow students were only into sports, so the drummer was left as an outcast with no one to talk to about metal music.

In an interview with Jason Arnopp for his book, "Slipknot: Inside the Sickness, Behind the Masks," Jordison joked about the situation and said, "In school everyone was taller than me. I got s*** for many years. No chicks would go out with me! I needed Gene Simmons' seven-inch heels."

His parents' divorce forced Joey Jordison to mature very early

After his parents divorced, Joey Jordison's father moved out, so the kids only got to see their dad on the weekends. For the rest of the week, the drummer had to help his mother take care of his two younger sisters at home, especially after school when she was still at work.

While talking with author Jason Arnopp, Jordison recalled the situation and said, "All of the sudden, I had to be the man of the house, in a weird way. I was helping my mom with my sisters all the time. It turned me into a more mature person at a really young age."

Throughout the experience, Jordison gained deep respect for his mother, who got up every day, made sure the kids went to school, went to work, then came home and made dinner, only to repeat the whole process again on only a few hours of sleep. Jordison said about his mom that "she taught me really good morals. Even though I do a lot of f*****-up s*** and I play in the most f*****-up band in the world, she did raise me really well."

Joey Jordison helped with his stepfather's funeral home business

When his mom married again to his new stepfather, Mike, Joey Jordison helped at the funeral parlor the family operated by embalming the dead and making them look nice for viewings. As Jordison said, "I've seen more dead people than you can possibly imagine. I used to help out with a lot of that. I never used it as a publicity thing though. It was just a job."

In an interview with Loudwire, Jordison explained that he was far from the only one who worked there and said that "My whole family did ... That was a big part of my life at the time." And there must have been a lot of tasks for the family to carry out each day since Jordison's stepfather owned five funeral homes for a time before he passed away. Though after Mike's death, the family no longer had so many funeral homes to operate.

Hatred was a major driving force while in Slipknot

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Joey Jordison said very bluntly, "I'm in this band because of everything that I hate about everything in the world." The drummer has also gone into more detail to explain where a lot of that anger and hatred originated from, basically due to the criticism and insults he and the rest of the band received as they tried to make it in the relatively small city of Des Moines, Iowa.

At some times, it seemed like many people in the predominantly conservative town were actively discouraging anyone to succeed and get out, especially aspiring metal stars. Jordison explained, "When someone constantly tells you to get a real job and quit spending your money on new drum pedals, all that s*** circles around in your head. There's a constant hate in me: it never leaves and it comes out every day. We were degraded for so long and had fingers pointed at us. When you get that middle finger as much as we did, you just want to throw it back in their faces." Needless to say, the drummer succeeded in doing so after the massive success of Slipknot.

Recording the album 'Iowa' with Slipknot was like a prison

The recording of their second album, "Iowa," was rough for all the members of Slipknot and each one of them has been vocal about it, including Joey Jordison. When speaking with Revolver, the drummer equated the experience to being in a prison since they were all trapped together until it was finished. Plus, the drummer said everyone was drunk and on drugs throughout the recording as well, which, ultimately, "was a very dark time for the band" that he is not fond of talking about.

Some explanation of the experience that Jordison did give was that he said, "I'm in a band with the best musicians in the f****** world. I'm so blessed. But at the same time, when we get together — even though we have so much love for each other — we f*****' want to kill each other." It turns out that when you combine hardcore musicians who genuinely love their craft with the characteristic Slipknot intensity, the results can be volatile. Though, it also produced an album still highly respected amongst the metal community to this day.

Slipknot bandmates were taken advantage of by their manager

In 2002, the members of Slipknot were in one of the worst stages of their careers, collectively. Their problems were so severe, both financially and with their personal relationships, that the band went on a brief hiatus. Especially on the money side of things, Slipknot's issues stemmed from poor management.

According to Exclaim!, the lead singer of Slipknot, Corey Taylor, explained that their manager at the time, Steve Richards, deviously trapped each member through legal contracts and pitted them against each other, while leaving the band with a ton of debt as well. The band also had to fight to keep the rights to the Slipknot brand and were fortunately successful in that battle. But they did have to tour excessively for their album, "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses," just to pay off their debt. And the band certainly learned from the experience, making them a stronger unit.

Though regardless of the wrongs Richards committed against Slipknot, Jordison appreciated the things the manager did right and did not hold a grudge against him. The drummer said that Richards "did a lot of good things, God bless his soul. He's dead. But it was the old scenario you hear about with Ted Nugent or whoever. We ended up being ripped off and not told the truth. But I don't think about that stuff anymore. I hope he's resting well and that he's in a better place."

The darker side to fame deeply angered Joey Jordison

Since Joey Jordison was doing what he loved, the drummer accepted the problems that came with the level of fame he earned as a member of Slipknot, but that is not to say that he was completely okay with it. In an interview with Joel McIver in his book, "SlipKnoT: All Hope is Gone," Jordison went on an expletive-riddled tirade about the negativity Slipknot was getting from much of the press and said, "It doesn't mean that it f****** doesn't f****** totally f****** goad me, and totally f****** brings me to a f****** boiling point."

Clearly, the issues got to him, but Jordison was always very resilient and fought to overcome all obstacles in order to follow his dreams. The drummer also said, "I'll do this until my last breath. It's what I've been put here for: it's my passion and it's pretty much my life. Slipknot could go another 20 years, or it could go another two: I don't know. Our band is like a freight train that's ready to fall off the tracks at a million miles per hour, but it never does."

The woman Joey Jordison loved cheated on him

Given what the members have said about being in Slipknot, it sounds stressful enough. However, the musicians also have personal lives that could put them even more on edge if things went wrong. One of the worst of these situations occurred for Joey Jordison when the band was around the peak of their popularity, while working on the album, "All Hope is Gone."

In a heartbreaking reveal to Kerrang! in 2008, Jordison admitted that his girlfriend cheated on him, even though they were in what he considered a very serious relationship (via Blabbermouth). Since he loved her and thought they would be together forever, the drummer was so devastated that he went on a three-week coke binge afterwards. Though one positive result from this was that Jordison reached a moment of clarity when it was over, which helped him turn his life around in positive ways and address his drug addiction. Plus, the experience inspired him to write some riffs for Slipknot's upcoming album, which is always therapeutic for a musician.

Joey Jordison struggled with drug addiction

Before 2008, Joey Jordison made public comments about the frequent drinking and drug use in Slipknot, just like the other members, but was also private about any personal struggles with addiction. Though the drummer did sometimes drop hints about his negative view on drugs, as in his interview with Revolver when he said, "I don't like to condone any drug use, whatsoever." However, Jordison publicly admitted to having a drug problem after he could see that he was hurting his family and was desperate to change that.

Jordison recalled that his sister, Annie, was desperately trying to help him during his weeks-long coke binge and he said, "I didn't answer my door, the lights were off, and I was just f****** ragingly pissed off all the time. So, she sent me a picture of my nephew. He was trying to play drums and he was wearing one of my old masks. And so, I called her, and she put him on the phone, and he said, 'I love you, Uncle Joey.'"

The moment struck him to the core, so Jordison said, "I realized I was basically f****** dying. It took that to make me realize what was really important in my life and that I'd done a lot of mean things to people."

Joey Jordison broke his ankle while touring in Europe

Joey Jordison received all sorts of injuries and battle wounds while playing for Slipknot, from brutally lacerating his shin to getting a concussion and a deep gash due to having a pipe thrown at his head from a keg drum that broke. Jordison explained another incident in graphic detail when he said, "I've cracked my f****** knuckles on the side of the snare and bled like a stuck pig. It wasn't just droplets of blood, the whole bottom of the drum was painted red with my blood," according to Jon Wiederhorn in his book, "Raising Hell: Backstage Tales from the Lives of Metal Legends."

Normally, Jordison kept on performing without skipping a beat, literally. But in 2008, Slipknot was forced to cancel their European shows while on tour for their upcoming album, "All Hope Is Gone," because Jordison broke his ankle. In order to prevent further injury, his doctor recommended that he should rest and heal, so the drummer was put out of commission for four to six weeks.

Joey Jordison learned of Paul Gray's death while on a plane

Joey Jordison had been friends with Paul Gray even before the formation of Slipknot, and it was Gray who brought him into the fold back in the fall of 1995, when Jordison would become the primary drummer of the band. So, the news of the bassist's tragic death in 2010 hit him particularly hard.

While talking to Joel McIver, Jordison described the painful event through his perspective. The drummer had just landed in Des Moines after collaborating with Rob Zombie for a tour while Slipknot were taking a break from the road. Since Jordison was still on the plane, he struggled to keep his composure when his manager called to inform him, and ended up smashing his phone in frustration from so many people calling afterwards.

At first, Jordison was furious that his manager could not wait until he was at home 30 minutes later, but as he said, "Then I realized they told me because they didn't want me to hear it from anyone else. I just went into a blank shock."

Joey Jordison said he was fired from Slipknot

On December 12, 2013, Slipknot released a statement that Joey Jordison had left the band, citing personal reasons but no more details other than that. However, the drummer was quick to say that he was actually fired and had no idea beforehand that the decision had been made to kick him out.

Years later in 2016, Jordison was still fuming over the dismissal and revealed more from his perspective on how it played out when he said, "No band meeting? None. Anything from management? No, nothing. All I got was a stupid f****** email saying I was out of the band that I busted my ass my whole life to f****** create." Though obviously furious, Jordison refused to rule out rejoining the band at some point.

According to Blabbermouth, lead singer Corey Taylor could not get too detailed for legal reasons, but he gave his own short explanation for why it happened and said, "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. This is me speaking in the broadest terms, with respect to Joey. I guess to sum it up, it was one of the hardest decisions we ever made."

A form of multiple sclerosis impaired Joey Jordison's ability to play the drums

Joey Jordison said that the other members of Slipknot thought he was on drugs and that was the reason why they had decided he should leave the band in 2013. But they were not aware of the fact that he had a neurological disorder called transverse myelitis that prevented him from being able to play the drums. And they were not aware of this for a time because even he was not fully aware of what was happening to him, says Billboard.

Transverse myelitis is a horrible condition that causes inflammation of the spinal cord that then damages nerve fibers. Jordison described the harrowing experience when he said, "I lost my legs. I couldn't play anymore. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don't wish on my worst enemy."

Yet, by using his characteristic determination, Jordison managed to overcome the illness through exercise and therapy. The talented drummer then went on to play for the bands Sinsaenum and Vimic after leaving Slipknot.

Joey Jordison tragically passed away at 46 years old

In July 2021, the rock music world was devastated by the news of Joey Jordison's death. His family released a statement on July 27th that the accomplished drummer passed away in his sleep the day before, according to Variety. 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." His family also asked for privacy from the media during the difficult time. There was no information immediately available on the cause of death, or if it was related at all to his medical condition.

Along with his family and friends, Joey Jordison will always be remembered by the many MaGGoTs who adored him and the bandmates who loved him like a brother. Slipknot showed their deep sorrow over the tragic loss simply with a black image on their Instagram account shortly after the shocking news.