Adam Jones: The maestro behind Tool's visual and musical legacy

Tool's Adam Jones is not only a guitarist for one of the biggest rock bands.
2017 The Governors Ball Music Festival - Day 3
2017 The Governors Ball Music Festival - Day 3 / Steven Ferdman/GettyImages

Adam Jones is best known as the guitarist for the American rock band Tool, but even non-Tool fans may have seen some of his work somewhere. Born on January 15, 1965, in Park Ridge, Illinois, Jones grew up with a passion for art and music. In addition to tooling around with Tool, he worked as a special effects artist in the film industry, contributing to movies such as Jurassic Park, Batman Returns, Ghostbusters II, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Edward Scissorhands, Pet Sematary, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Aliens, and The Return of the Living Dead.

Jones joined Tool in 1990, shortly after the band's formation, and he had musical roots with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello. He has said: "I went to high school with Tom Morello, and we had a band. When I joined, I was the best person in it, but when Tom went to college, he started practicing. When he came back, he was too good for me!"

Jones' distinctive guitar style, characterized by complex rhythms, heavy riffs, and atmospheric textures, has been a significant part of Tool's sound. He is also known for his use of visual effects during live performances, contributing to the immersive experience of the band's shows, similar to a Pink Floyd tour.

Aside from his work with Tool, Jones has also collaborated with other artists and worked on various projects. For example, he appeared on 4 tracks on the Jello Biafra and The Melvins album Never Breathe What You Can't See, for example. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail, both in his music and in his visual art. Of course, Tool's cult fans are his main bread and butter.

Adam Jones and Tool's artwork

Jones has contributed to the creation of Tool's album artwork and music videos, showcasing his talent as a visual artist alongside his musical prowess. In 2007, he won the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package as the art director for his work on 10,000 Days.

His creative guitar work also helps to bring Tool's concepts to life in unique ways (for example, his repeating guitar lines in Tool's "46 & 2" almost seem to bring to light the "shadow self" suggested in the vague lyrics). Though Tool has a signature sound, they might fit in on a music playlist along with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Front 242.

In addition to his musical and visual artistry, Jones is known for his reclusive nature, preferring to maintain a relatively low profile outside of his work with Tool. Despite this, he has garnered a dedicated fan base and remains a respected figure in the world of rock music. He is also not too shy to give guitar tutorials. He is responsible for much, if not all, of the photography and special lighting techniques which are used in Tool's music videos and live shows.

Jones’ professional achievements have made Tool about as American as Levi's jeans. Look at it this way: His occupations have included musician/designer/visual creator/music video director/arranger/animator/songwriter/digital illustrator/prog metal guitar god. Not a bad career, really.

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