10 times Joey Jordison was an absolute hero

Joey Jordison
(Image credit: Jesse Wild)

With the announcement of the death of former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, the world of metal has lost a genuine icon.

Jordison rose to prominence as drummer with the nine-headed monster from Iowa, but there was so much more to him than just being a member of modern metal’s most influential band. 

He was once voted the Best Drummer In The World. And from being parachuted in as a last-minute replacement at other band’s gigs to masterminding an all-star album and guesting with numerous other acts, Jordison was someone who, in the words of Trivium's Matt Heafy, "changed the face of heavy music on the planet as we know it."

Here are some of Jordison's finest career moments.  

Subbing for Lars Ulrich at Download 2004

Topping one of the best festival bills ever assembled in the UK (Soulfly, Machine Head, Slayer, Slipknot and Korn are pretty decent support acts), Metallica’s first headline appearance at the Download Festival promised to be a night to remember. And so it proved, though for reasons no-one could have predicted. 

On the afternoon of June 6, mere hours before Metallica were due onstage, drummer Lars Ulrich was taken to hospital following an ‘episode’ en route to the UK, leaving James Hetfield to convene some hasty auditions backstage at Donington Park. 

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, with Joey Jordison being entrusted to carry the lion’s share of Metallica’s first ever gig without their diminutive Danish founder. We’re not saying that Metallica never sounded better – ahem – but check out this footage from behind Joey’s kit.

Taking Slipknot Into The Big Boys League at Docklands Arena

For all the critical acclaim and media hype which surrounded Slipknot’s self-titled 1999 debut album, many metal fans still viewed the masked men from Iowa as a novelty band as the new millennium dawned: that would change with the release of Iowa

Looking to make a statement, Slipknot hired a 26 camera crew to document their February 16, 2002 headline show at London’s 12,000 capacity Docklands Arena, to offer emphatic proof that they had arrived on a global scale. The resulting Disasterpieces DVD is one of the great in-concert metal films, and the option to view their drummer on ‘Joey Cam’ offered a unique perspective on Slipknot’s ascendancy into metal’s premier division.

Helping Ministry destroy Wacken 2006

Ministry were always a ferocious live band, but the line-up which Al Jourgensen assembled to tour 2006’s Rio Grande Blood album was a next level proposition, with Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, Prong guitarist Tommy Victor and Joey Jordison signing up to bring Jourgensen’s dark vision to life. 

The band’s appearance at the Wacken Festival on August 4 was an undeniable high point, with Jordison powering the industrial-metal legends through an almost unbearably intense set.

Throwing the rock world a curveball with a Billy Idol cover

It’s fair to say no-one saw this coming. When Slipknot first emerged, bloodied, bruised and belligerent, on the metal scene, you’d have been given long odd on their murderously intense, motormouth drummer stepping out from behind his kit to form a trashy goth/glam outfit, and longer odds still on said collective covering a cheesy MTV hit from Bromley’s own cartoon punk rocker Billy Idol. 

Only a complete helmet would argue that this is one of the finest songs Jordison has been involved with, but for the sheer balls of this entertaining reinvention, we doff a peaked leather cap to the Murderdolls guitarist.

Breathing life into a new-born Korn

In the mid 2000s, with Brian ‘Head’ Welch quitting the band and drummer David Silveria disappearing ‘on hiatus’, Korn looked to be falling apart at the seams. 

Recruiting Joey Jordison for the 2007 Family Values tour, and a handful of European festival dates, was a masterstroke that might just have saved the band, as they returned lean and focussed with sets that reminded metal fans of their ground-breaking contribution to the scene.

Squad Goals with Marilyn Manson

In 2002 Marilyn Manson popped up with a cameo appearance in Murderdolls video for Dead In Hollywood, alerting the rock world to the fact that he and Joey Jordison were new BFFs. 

“I met him when I was asked to a party of his and he saw me shake hands with a member from Limp Bizkit and tell this guy that his band sucked to his face,” Jordison later recalled. “He seemed pretty amused by that.” 

Manson returned the favour by getting the drummer to remix The Fight Song and inviting Jordison to make a memorable cameo, in his Slipknot mask, in the riotous video for his cover of Tainted Love. As one commentator on this YouTube clip notes, “I love how this is a Manson song, But people are talking about Joey…”

Helping mastermind the Roadrunner United project

In 2005, alongside Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, Trivium’s Matt Heafy and Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares, Jordison was chosen as one of the four ‘team captains’ entrusted with helping collate a special 25th anniversary tribute to Roadrunner Records. 

The drummer played on five of the 18 tracks recorded for The All-Star Sessions, and is credited as one of the dynamic driving forces behind the project, and it’s one-night-only live concert in New York on December 15, 2005.

Headlining Download for the first time with Slipknot

Ten years on from the release of their debut album, Slipknot finally headlined at metal’s spiritual home in the East Midlands. If you were lucky enough to have witnessed the show, you will recall it as one of the all-time great Donington performances. 

If not, here’s a reminder of a historic day for the band Joey Jordison helped form while working in a Des Moines petrol station. It would be the only occasion that the original Nine headlined Download.

Pulling a ‘Dave Grohl’ with Scar The Martyr

The emergence of Vimic signalled the death knell for Joey’s short-lived side project Scar The Martyr, although three members of that band - Jed Simon (guitar), Kyle Konkiel (bass) and Matthew Tarach (keyboards) – ‘transitioned’ with Jordison to the new band. 

We won’t pretend that Scar The Martyr were ever going to replicate Slipknot’s success, but respect is due to Jordison for the fact that he played guitars, drums and bass on their self-titled 2013 album.

This drum solo

We’ll just leave this here.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.