When Slipknot’s bassist Paul Gray died of a relapse and overdose in 2010, I was twenty years old, and angry. I refused absolutely to believe it. I ‘yelled’ at others on social networks for sharing news of his death, and I denigrated the Iowa newspaper that first reported the news as a ‘lying tabloid’ — I had, of course, never read it before then.
Why so angry? Because young men — hell, men — get angry when the bubbles in which they live are burst. Gray’s death was one such bursting. I had spent between ages twelve and twenty, half my life, completely taken in by the illusion Slipknot carefully built and stage-managed of themselves as an unstoppable entity. I loved the unreality of it, the sense of transformation and monstrosity. Gray’s death was definitive evidence that, no, they were in fact human, and had all the ordinary capacities and foibles of ordinary people.
Joey Jordison, Slipknot’s drummer, is dead. With him and Gray now passed, the two primary songwriters who penned ‘Wait and Bleed’, ‘Disasterpiece’, ‘Duality’ and the majority of Slipknot’s three-album streak of brilliance between 1999 and 2004 are gone. The stunning drummer — someone who bolted syncopated nu-metal rhythms to extreme metal’s fearsome blasting tempos with apparent perfect ease — is gone. The goofball who made a ludicrous band like the Murderdolls into a cult sensation is gone. And the human being, whose refusal to acknowledge debilitating sickness ruined his career and capacity to perform (not helped by his band’s refusal to talk to him, or allow him time to heal), is gone.
I have aged enough, and grieved for enough people who were an actual, tangible part of my daily life, that I’m not angry at the death of a stranger, like I was a decade ago. But I am surprised by how much sorrow I feel at this news.
I did not know Joey Jordison, but for nearly twenty years I’ve treasured much of the art he created, in whatever spirit it was intended. And I loved the old illusion that he worked so hard to conjure.
Rest in peace.