Donnie Steele – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroAmerican musician
Is Musician 
From United States of America 
Type Music 
Birth 31 December 1967, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, U.S.A.
Age:52 years

Donald S. “Donnie” Steele (born October 6, 1971) is an American heavy metal musician. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he is best known as one of two original guitarists in Slipknot. Steele co-founded Slipknot in 1995, performing on the band’s debut demo Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. He left in 1996 and was replaced by Craig “133” Jones, but later rejoined in 2011 as the touring bassist following the 2010 death of Paul Gray. Steele contributed to the band’s 2014 album .5: The Gray Chapter, but was later replaced full-time by Alessandro Venturella.


1992–1996: Early career and Slipknot

Donnie Steele began his career as a member of Des Moines, Iowa-based death metal band Body Pit, in which fellow future Slipknot members Anders Colsefni (vocals), Mick Thomson (guitar) and Paul Gray (bass) had all performed. He later co-founded Slipknot in September 1995, alongside Colsefni, second guitarist Josh “Gnar” Brainard, Gray, drummer Joey Jordison and percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan. He was described by Brainard as “a pretty technical guitar player” and “one of those multi-talented guys”. Author Joel McIver partly credits Steele with the introduction of jazz elements to the band’s sound, describing the guitarist as a “self-confessed jazzbo”.

In early 1996, after the recording of the band’s debut demo Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., Steele began to miss a number of Slipknot rehearsal sessions. The other band members attempted to track the guitarist down, but had to continue on without him, until one of them later saw him by chance and was told that he no longer wanted to be in the group. According to Brainard, Steele “felt that playing with Slipknot was against his Christian beliefs”; the rest of the band respected the guitarist’s reasons for choosing to leave, although both Brainard and Colsefni have criticised his lack of communication regarding his decision to do so. With concerts forthcoming, Steele was quickly replaced by Craig Jones.

2011–2014: Return to Slipknot on bass

Following the death of Gray in May 2010, Slipknot took a brief hiatus and later announced that Steele would replace the bassist for upcoming tour dates. In an official statement, the band explained that “Donnie was in the band at the very beginning, and rather than get an outsider, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Paul to play with someone from within the family”. Speaking about his return to the band, percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan explained that the decision to invite Steele to replace Gray “felt completely comfortable”, adding that the band was “not gonna have some jackass from another band come into our world … Donnie’s family. Donnie’s from the stone of the ‘Knot”.

During live performances, Steele remained backstage out of sight of the crowd. Despite praising him for fitting back into Slipknot well, Crahan justified this decision by asking “What gives him the right to be onstage with us right now?”, elaborating that “When we’re going through an experience like this with our fans, they need to concentrate on the eight members that are grieving, not on someone new”. Steele only remained with the group for touring purposes, and was later replaced full-time by Alessandro Venturella in 2014, although he did record some bass parts for the band’s 2014 fifth studio album .5: The Gray Chapter according to guitarist Jim Root.

Other projects and contributions

Aside from Slipknot, Donnie Steele formed the death metal group Killpact in 2001 with vocalist Rick Funderburk, bassist Kyle Worsfold and drummer Ernie McGinn (who had previously performed in Body Pit). In an interview with MFKR1, a website dedicated to the early incarnations of Slipknot, he described the band as “a mixture of death metal, 80’s thrash and shred with a strong emphasis on hooks”. In 2016, Steele made a guest appearance on the debut album by Des Moines-based groove metal band Murder Earth, Waiting (For the End of Man), following the departure of guitarist Ryan Thornton.


  • Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996)
  • .5: The Gray Chapter (2014)
  • Waiting (For the End of Man) (2016)