Jordison was born in Des Moines, Iowa on April 26, 1975, to Steve and Jackie Jordison. He has two younger sisters. He grew up in a rural area outside of Waukee where he used to play basketball on the street in front of his house. He embraced music at an early age, which he attributes to his parents' influence: "They always sat me down in front of the radio, rather than the TV." He played guitar until receiving his first drum kit as a gift from his parents at age eight, and started his first band while in elementary school.
Jordison's parents divorced when he was young. The children stayed with their mother. His mother remarried and set up a funeral parlor where Jordison would occasionally help. Jordison has stated that he felt a sudden responsibility to be the man of the house. During this time, he formed the band Modifidious, in which he played drums. He later described them as "total speed-metal thrash". The band helped Jordison break new ground, playing live as support to local bands including Atomic Opera, featuring Jim Root, and Heads on the Wall, featuring Shawn Crahan. He also played at a bowling center his family owned, on a night called "Rock and Roll Bowl". After a multitude of lineup changes – including Craig Jones and Josh Brainard, who would reappear in Slipknot – the band released two demos in 1993: Visceral and Mud Fuchia.
Jordison cites Keith Moon, John Bonham, Peter Criss, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich as his main influences, and said, "I grew up listening to Mötley Crüe's Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil."
After leaving school, Jordison was hired by a local music store called Musicland. In March 1994, after a recommendation from his new friend, he got a job at a Sinclair garage in Urbandale. Jordison worked the night shift, which he preferred, as it left his weekends free and allowed him to spend time with his friends and listen to music while working. In early 1995, Modifidious disbanded because of a shift in interest from thrash metal to death metal in America. Following this Jordison joined a local band called The Rejects as a guitarist, with whom he only played a couple of shows. Jordison was also involved in a band with Paul Gray and vocalist
Don Decker, named Anal Blast. Gray also attempted to recruit him for another band, Body Pit, but he declined the invitation to remain in The Rejects. During the forming period of Slipknot, Paul recruited Joey to join a punk band called the Have Nots in the Spring of 1996. Joey would leave the Have Nots in February 1997 to "focus on Slipknot" but instead reformed the Rejects, which would play Des Moines up until Slipknot left to record Slipknot's self-titled album, which Paul played in after the Have Nots broke up.
On June 13, 2016, Jordison revealed that he suffers from transverse myelitis, a neurological disease that temporarily cost him the use of his legs and caused him to be unable to play the drums before rehabilitation.