Joey Jordison, the founding drummer for the ghoulishly theatrical metal band Slipknot, who helped write many of the group’s best-known songs and often performed wearing a crown of thorns and a silver mask streaked with black paint, died on Monday. He was 46.
His family confirmed the death in a statement, which did not say where he died or specify a cause.
In a tribute in New Musical Express, the culture and music magazine, the writer James McMahon called Mr. Jordison one of the greatest heavy metal players of all time.
Mr. McMahon recalled that Slipknot’s self-titled debut was greeted in one of two ways when it was released in 1999.
“One was a guttural disgust,” he wrote. “This was a band that huffed the fumes of dead crows before stage time, who punched each other in the face onstage.
“The other was adoration: If you felt different, strange or unique at the dawn of the millennium, few bands offered you sanctuary like the nine-piece did.”
“They were Slipknot, and you were a Maggot,” he added, referring to the nickname that the band’s fans embraced for themselves.
Mr. Jordison founded Slipknot in 1995 with the percussionist Shawn Crahan and the bassist Paul Gray. By the time the band issued its debut album, its membership had expanded to nine members.
Their first album was certified platinum within a year. “I was a night manager at a Sinclair gas station from ’95 to ’97,” Mr. Jordison told Rolling Stone in 2001. “That’s where most of ‘Slipknot’ was conceived.”
The group helped to reinvent hard rock in the early 2000s, incorporating elements of alternative metal, shock rock and hip-hop into its sound and developing a stage show that leaned heavily on theatrics. Its members performed in matching jumpsuits and sinister masks, emphasizing their anonymity by using the numbers zero through eight as stage aliases.
In 2005, Slipknot won a Grammy for best metal performance for the song “Before I Forget.” Slipknot had three Top 10 singles on the Billboard 200 during Mr. Jordison’s time with the band, Billboard reported, reaching No. 1 in 2008 with “All Hope Is Gone,” which Mr. Jordison wrote with his bandmates.
Mr. Jordison’s explosive, virtuosic playing and elaborate solos, sometimes performed atop a hydraulic riser, made him a fan favorite. He remained with Slipknot until 2013 when, he said in an interview with Metal Hammer magazine, he was unceremoniously dismissed from the band by email in a “hurtful” misunderstanding about his health.
In 2016, as he accepted a Metal Hammer Golden Gods award, he said in a speech that he had been booted from Slipknot after he learned that he had transverse myelitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the spinal cord that can cause sensory problems and limb weakness.
Although some people recover with minor or no problems, the process can take years.
“I got really, really sick,” he said. “I couldn’t play anymore. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don’t wish on my worst enemy.” He said he “got myself back up, and I got myself in the gym,” and beat the disorder with therapy.
“It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” he said.
Nathan Jordison was born on April 26, 1975, in Des Moines and grew up about 20 miles west, in Waukee, Iowa, Rolling Stone reported. The oldest of three children, he discovered Kiss and Black Sabbath in the early 1980s. He began playing music with a friend, starting with the guitar and switching to drums because the friend could not play them well, according to Rolling Stone.
His parents nurtured his interest in music, surprising him with his own drum kit when he was in the fifth grade.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.
Monte Conner, who signed Slipknot to Roadrunner Records in 1998, said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr. Jordison’s “manic playing style and innovative drumming were truly unique in every way.”
Mr. Jordison “was an equally great songwriter who understood what went into writing songs with choruses and hooks that connected with and spoke to an entire generation of heavy metal fans,” Mr. Conner said. “Joey lived and breathed the music and was a total scholar in all things heavy metal. He used that knowledge to take everything he loved about the various genres of metal and combine it all into a melting pot of sounds that had never before been heard.”
In his Golden Gods Award speech, Mr. Jordison said he had no ill feelings toward the members of Slipknot over his dismissal from the band. He asked the audience to “give them praise,” and fondly recalled his time “in the basements of Des Moines, Iowa,” with Mr. Crahan and Mr. Gray, who died in 2010.
Despite his illness, Mr. Jordison rededicated himself to music, playing guitar for the bands Murderdolls and Sinsaenum, and playing drums for the metal band Vimic.
In May 2000, Slipknot featured prominently in a New York Times article about what some at the time were calling new metal or heavy alternative music. Slipknot, then at the vanguard of that movement, had been rejected by 10 labels before landing on Roadrunner Records.
“A guy at Sony told us, ‘If this is the future of music, I don’t want to be alive,’” Mr. Jordison recalled. “I just thought, If that’s what he thinks, then we are doing something right.”
Isabella Grullón Paz contributed reporting.
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