When I received a text message from a friend that Chester Bennington had just died, I didn’t want to believe it. “Not again,” was the first thing I said. After losing many of my idols from the 90s, I’ve now officially lost one from the 2000s.
The last time I wrote about Bennington and his band Linkin Park, I was essentially bashing the direction the band had taken going pop with their latest and now last album. In fact, Bennington cursed out fans who were against the change, which in itself was shocking due to his fan-friendly nature over the last 17 years.
Maybe it was a sign of things to come, as Bennington was found by his wife on July 20th after he committed suicide by hanging.
What makes this really sad was that Bennington and Chris Cornell (who died the same way in May) were very close friends, and July 20th being Cornell’s birthday added some extra weight to this death.
In fact, Bennington performed Hallelujah at Cornell’s funeral in tribute to his fallen friend. Is it possible Bennington was haunted by Cornell’s death and it started a spiral that ultimately led to his death on this specific day?
Bennington and Cornell Perform Hunger Strike
My love affair with Linkin Park started almost instantly. I was in college and in a weird place in my life as I was going through a lot of personal issues and changes. Sometimes you feel like no one understands you and for me, my outlet was always music. Around this time, One Step Closer started getting played on rock radio basically every hour.
That much hype for a band with no album out yet was unheard of. My local radio station would occasionally put on concerts for 92 cents and Linkin Park was the opening band for a show that also included Fuel and another new act Disturbed.
Just about everyone at the Roseland was there for Linkin Park, whose album wasn’t even out yet. Playing almost their entire debut album, the crowd was insane for the whole set and we didn’t even know the songs. This doesn’t happen often. In that moment, I knew Linkin Park were going to be huge.
I was right, as Hybrid Theory went on to become one of the Top 100 selling albums of all time and is considered one of the best debuts and albums since 2000. I was at my record store the day Hybrid Theory was released and when I started to explore the album and its lyrics and themes.
I found the band that would help me get through the next few years. They were the right band at the right time and I knew I wasn’t alone. With tracks like Papercut, Runaway, and all the rest, there wasn’t a bad song on their debut.
But Crawling and In the End took me to another level. When I had a film school assignment to create a self-portrait, I used Crawling as my background music to get across how I was feeling at that time in my life as it was a perfect fit. I joined the band's fan club in 2002 and was lucky enough to score tickets to their record preview show at Roseland once again as their second album Meteora was about to hit stores.
Again, without knowing any of the new songs, the fans went crazy for all 8 new songs. Once I heard Somewhere I Belong and Breaking the Habit, I almost felt like the band was writing songs for me. It wasn’t until later that I found out about Chester’s upbringing and his struggles growing up and as a young adult that I realized I saw a lot of myself in his lyrics especially since we were about the same age.
Before I continue, I want to let my editor Morgan talk about another track on Meteora that influenced her as well.
Growing up, I was one of the many teens heavily influenced by Linkin Park. I first heard the band at my town’s local roller rink. They were playing In The End, the lights dimmed, and I remember feeling such a rush of adrenaline as the song played around me.
However, it wasn’t until 2005, 2 years after the release of Meteora, that I become obsessed with the band. It was at that time that I discovered the song Numb and its accompanying music video. After my first watch/listen, I broke down in tears. The girl in the video looked so much like me at the time, and the lyrics felt like a mirror of my own inner monologue.
Each song on Meteora truly encapsulated how I felt throughout my teenage years, and to this day, I hold the album extremely close to my heart. I am deeply rattled by the loss of Chester Bennington, as his music always helped pull me out of my depression. I send my thoughts and condolences out to him and his family... this loss cuts deep. - Morgan
Minutes to Midnight
Continuing on, by the time Minutes to Midnight was released in 2007, I was in deep with Linkin Park, seeing them in concert over 10 times from Jersey to Long Beach. I was once again hooked on their third album. Bleed It Out, Given Up, and What I’ve Done are all just great rock songs that still identified with me.
Now engaged, my soon-to-be wife and I would rock out to Given Up on the way to her train station for work every morning. This album cycle culminated with my fan club seats sitting front row for their summer tour. I lost my mind being so close to the band and stood their singing all those songs back to the band that had helped me over the last 7 years. I thought at this point that I’d be a hardcore LP fan for life.
Then the release of A Thousand Suns happened. It divided fans tremendously and I was on the side of the fence with the fans who did not like the band changing direction. That change in sound kept evolving over their next three albums culminating to their last album, One More Light, which is essentially a pop record.
I dropped off with Linkin Park around 2010 and haven’t really looked back. I still listen to their first three albums regularly, but was heartbroken that this band I loved so much changed to a point where I couldn’t even listen to their new music. That had never happened to me with other bands that I was such a huge fan of.
During this time, Chester Bennington started to play with Stone Temple Pilots as Scott Weiland was dealing with his own issues. I had a chance to see the Chester fronted STP two years ago and was blown away by how amazing he sounded with the band.
When he was growing up, Chester idolized STP and it was his dream to play with the band. Now living out his dream, I felt that as a fan of his, I may have a second chance with Chester now fronting one of my other all-time favorite bands and recording some good music. In the end, Chester left STP to concentrate on Linkin Park again.
Chester Covering Adele’s Rolling in the Deep
Here we are today, with another rock icon gone and a world of questions. Let’s try and get through this one like we did when Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland and Kurt Cobain passed away, by listening to their music and celebrating their talent as musicians and artists.
Chester left behind a body of work that spanned 17 years and for many of those 17 years he was the lead singer for one of the biggest bands in the world. Not many people can say that.
I would like to end this tribute by just saying thank you to a man who helped me at a real low point in my life and many others around the world by letting us know that we weren’t alone and that there were others out there that shared in what we felt. We may have gone our separate ways later on in life but I won’t ever forget what you did for me.
Rest in peace, Chester.
Chris Cornell was a rock legend who was also taken from us too soon. Let’s remember him with this tribute. We lost one of rock's great frontmen in Scott Weiland and he is best remembered for his great contributions both solo and with Stone Temple Pilots.