Why do Slipknot wear masks?

It's a question that's followed the band since shortly after they first started. And it's only continued as Slipknot have progressively altered each band member's unique mask in tandem with — and as a reflection of — their artistic growth. At this point, can you even imagine Slipknot with their masks?

The unmistakable but ever-shifting Slipknot masks, no matter how much they change, are the primary visual signifier of the influential metal group. The masks are as much a part of the band as the music. Plus, they look absolutely, insanely awesome. But how did Slipknot decide to wear masks?

READ MORE: Masked Rock Stars With + Without Their Masks - Photos

It was in Slipknot's earliest days, per Slipknot lore, that founding percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan showed up to rehearsals wearing a clown mask, as Kerrang! Radio recalled. The musician would later say it was a symbol destined for his life.

It also, of course, inspired his nickname in the band. Soon after, Slipknot concluded that every member should wear a unique mask with their onstage matching jumpsuits. Now, it's metal history.

What Clown Said About Slipknot Masks

Just before Slipknot's first gig on Halloween 1995, Crahan cemented his clown identity and presented it to the band. "We were all going around the room asking, 'What are you going to wear?'" he recalled to Metal Hammer. "I pulled up the clown mask I had and said, 'I'm wearing this.'"

Scott Gries, Getty Images / Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com / Raphael Dias, Getty Images
Corey Taylor Masks (Scott Gries, Raphael Dias, Getty Images / Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com)

However, the rest of Slipknot weren't sold at first, though clearly that didn't last long. "A few of them were like, 'No fucking way. You can't be the only guy wearing some stupid mask,'" Crahan remembered. "I said, 'I really don't care what you think, this is who I am, and this is what I'm going to do.'"

Indeed, for Clown, it was destiny. "I had gotten a version of this mask when I was 14," he said in a separate interview, per The Sun. "I just never knew why it was in my world. But it was always around me. Then one day, it just so happened — it was that moment of clarity to decide what I want to project."

What Corey Taylor Said About Slipknot Masks

Corey Taylor, Slipknot's lead singer, has acknowledged the scope of Crahan's artistic outlook by spearheading the masks. "I give a lot of credit to Clown," the vocalist told Kerrang! Radio. "His imagination, his vision in a lot of ways has helped shape this for so many years."

Taylor added, "We contribute and do our part, but his unifying vision in a lot of ways has helped us maintain that risk, that look, that attention to detail. So even when we do big things like a reveal on the internet for new outfits, new masks and stuff, it's still a big deal."

Indeed it is. It's not just mystery; it's not just visual impact, it's something more than that. Slipknot's masks are the band's ultimate totem, unique to each member but representing the outfit as a whole.

Lofty artistic expression and mastery of stage presence combine for a visually striking experience, leaving a more mysterious legend around the band than had they never donned the masks.

Watch: Top 10 Craziest Slipknot Moments

The Evolution of Slipknot's Terrifying Masks

How Slipknot's masks have changed with each album cycle.

Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner

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