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The Man Behind The Mask: Stories From Corey Taylor's Childhood

Updated September 23, 2021 209.9k views11 items

Most people know Corey Taylor as the soul-baring, mask-wearing singer of Slipknot and lead vocalist of Stone Sour. Regardless of which band he’s performing with, Taylor’s songs tap a deep well of emotional angst, resonating with metal fans across the globe. There's an earnestness in his music uncommon among many modern metal bands

Much of the apprehension Taylor sings about comes from his time growing up in Des Moines, IA. While he wraps some of his stories in lyrical metaphors, he opens up candidly about his childhood in interviews. Even though he comes off as a tough guy, Taylor's not the kind of person who is going to hide personal struggles for the sake of appearing normal. Stories from Corey Taylor's childhood are absolutely wild, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into this rocker's head. 

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  • His Grandmother Set Him Straight 

    Taylor spent most of his early life on the road with his mother, but as a teenager he moved in with his grandmother in Des Moines, IA. In a 2009 interview, Taylor claimed his grandmother had "the strongest influence" on his life, as she pushed him to be the person he is today. He said: 

    She instilled in me my work ethic, my attention to loved ones. She was really my proper mom, I love my mother but it was such an insane way to grow up, just... all over the place. My grandmother was my rock, she was my foundation, she was my stability, she was my safe home. That really had a lot of impact on me, especially growing up, and even today.

    After his grandmother passed, Taylor posted a tribute to her on Instagram

    She was my hero. My rock. My everything. She raised me. Taught me to be kind but tough. Work and encourage others to do so. I've never known a day without her in this world. My heart has broken. I loved her so much. And I will miss her every day. She was an incredible woman. And I owe her everything.

  • He Started Smoking When He Was 10 Years Old

    Taylor has had a long history of using and forming a dependency on substances. After he quit puffing tobacco, Taylor revealed he had possessed a nicotine habit since he was a child. He told Dean Delray

    I quit coke and speed when I was 16 so I never had a problem turning that down. But the booze was really where it got me... And I smoked since I was 10 years old. Quit [in 2015] on Chantix. Thank f*ck. I didn't want to at the time. But everybody I was with was like, "I’m gonna f*cking quit." 

    I was like, "Ah, f*ck..." It's actually the best f*ckin' decision besides quitting drinking. As a singer especially. I got so much of my register back. But health-wise, every time I give up something like that, it has just improved me as an entertainer, as a singer, as a writer. Clear-headed, I've been able to write some of the best thoughts that I've ever been able to.

  • He Gave His First Performance At 9 Years Old

    For many performers, especially singers, their first audience is composed of family members. Even though Taylor's early life was constantly in flux, he still found time to sing for his family. When he was only 9 years old, he wasn't singing a snarling metal track - at this young age, he was listening to Journey. Taylor told Revolver

    My cousin was about four or five years older than I was. We were listening to Journey, the Frontiers album, and I started singing along with "Separate Ways." My cousin freaks out, calls all the family into the living room, stands me in a corner, and goes, "Corey's going to sing for everybody!" I was stunned. I must have been crimson, you know? But she dropped the needle on the record, I stood in that corner, and I sang every f*cking note of "Separate Ways." It was the first song I ever sang to an audience. They hooted and hollered, and it left an impression on me.