Though the news has been circulating for the better part of the hour, I am taking the time to confirm that not only has Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington died, but that his end was due to a suicide where he hung himself in his residence. He was found in this fashion by one of household staff early in the morning and was dead at the time of his discovery and this leads authorities to believe that he had done this late last night or early this morning. Chester Bennington was 41 years old. For most of the world, Chester was known to us as being the singer for the Alt-Metal band Linkin Park and also as the main man for Stone Temple Pilots once their singer Scott Weiland had stepped down to pursue other paths. He would do this for two years before deciding to spend the majority of his time on the future of Linkin Park. Shortly after Chester stepped down from STP, the bands original singer was found dead of a drug overdose. It’s both interesting and alarming to note that today is also the birthday of the late great Chris Cornell who took his own life back in May of this year. Another light extinguished before shining as bright as it still could and this saddens me greatly.
I learned about Linkin Park very early in their history and they were not yet a “broken band” on the scene but one of the still up and coming to those who had their ears to the sound building up around them. I remember missing the show that was being held at Irving Plaza because my friend described them to me as being just like Limp Bizkit and there was no way that I was going to tolerate another band like that if I could help it. A few days after the show I heard the first melodies from the still forthcoming album “Hybrid Theory” with “One Step Closer” and it blew my mind. This band was fresh, exciting, crossing boundaries and bringing something to the table that took both courage and forward thinking and oh yeah one more thing – They didn’t sound like Limp Bizkit at all. Back in 2000 it wasn’t as easy to research into an up and comer unless your friends had demos or singles etc. There was no Facebook yet which I know many of you are finding hard to believe and well, to be honest MOST of the creature comforts of Social Media and streaming didn’t exist yet either. I never did forgive that friend for making me think this was another Limp Bizkit because clearly, Linkin Park was so much more and it was because of the diversity in its musicians that made it such a thing of wonder.
Speaking personally it wasn’t long before I added that debut album to my collection and wished that I had a group of musicians to jam along to something like this to wrangle out the days corporate aggression (I was a suit guy back at the time). I wouldn’t see the band in concert until the followup album “Reanimation” in 2002 and I wasn’t even doing this kind of thing at the time yet either so wasn’t snapping photos or taking notes. Sadly this would be the only time that I ever caught the group in action but I did love what they did just the same. Chester had a unique stage presence to him and it was clear that with every word he sang he was speaking to all of the fans in the audience – especially those who had a similar adolescence to his own. As the news circulated today I read numerous accounts of how his lyrics got many through a difficult time and they questioned how to handle the time going forward without him. To those people I say be with friends and share good memories of the musician and his songs and in time you will find some healing comfort. It will be hard for awhile for sure.
It would take many, many years for me to catch Chester doing his thing on stage and the first one of those occurrences would be when he was fronting the Stone Temple Pilots. The band was playing as a part of a Rock Carnival in NJ and while I loved the vibe of Scott Weiland in his classic tunes, it was clear that Chester had made them his own and brought something very special to their performance. Judging by the fans around me it was also clear that they were loving it as well. That’s never a bad thing but he would leave the band to focus on LP as I cited above. The next go round would be when Chester was a part of a Supergroup that played all sorts of Classic Hard Rock and Metal covers. They were called the Kings Of Chaos and their premise was very similar to that of the Hollywood Vampires. Chester came out and sang the STP stuff and that is where the photos in this reflection came from. I had high hopes of catching one of the new tour dates by Linkin Park for the year and while the group is visiting my immediate region I am not going to be in town for it so I never asked. One has to wonder how and if the band will continue without a presence like Chester’s.
The amount of details and history about this fine musician can be found in his official Wikipedia entry. I tend to not retype all of that stuff since its well documented there and instead I keep my reflections to the personal memories. I cannot hope to fathom what was going on in his head to cause him to feel the need to exit and can only say that it leaves a lot of people sad and with questions about their own path. Suicide is not the answer but its easy for someone who doesn’t suffer addiction or depression to say something like this. It’s not something that can be easily examined or prevented but you can try if you are feeling those feelings or have a friend that you are concerned about. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 I’ll close up with the biggest batch of condolences that I can to his family, band mates and worldwide fans whose music they found healing through. I wish I wasn’t writing another one of these down but I am. Rest In Peace Chester Bennington, thank you for the tunes that you gave us. You had so much more to give. Goodnight.
Official Artist Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Bennington