Linkin Park singer’s death shocks fans

Fans re­call rock band’s pop­u­lar­ity grow­ing with re­peated lo­cal vis­its

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shock and sad­ness gripped many young Chi­nese mu­sic fans on Fri­day af­ter the ap­par­ent sui­cide of Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, lead vo­cal­ist of the US rock band Linkin Park.

Ben­ning­ton, 41, was found hanged in his home on Thurs­day in Los An­ge­les county in the US state of Cal­i­for­nia.

Fans used so­cial me­dia to post hun­dreds of mes­sages and some of the band’s songs, in­clud­ing In the End, Good Good­bye and Numb — hits in China.

“Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton RIP. I wanted to watch your per­for­mance again,” Wu Ruoya, 34, wrote on WeChat. “It’s so sad that you left and the band will never be com­plete.”

Wu had taken a train from Bei­jing to Shang­hai to see Linkin Park in 2007. Wu said she paid around 1,000 yuan ($132 at the time) — big money for a re­cent graduate — to get a closer view of Ben­ning­ton.

The band’s fol­low­ing in China grew af­ter their songs were used in the 2009 film Trans­form­ers: Re­venge of the Fallen. Linkin Park per­formed in the Chi­nese main­land three times, in 2007, 2009 and 2015, and vis­ited Hong Kong four times be­tween 2004 and 2013. They also per­formed in Tai­wan.

The band, which started in 1996 in Cal­i­for­nia, has won two Grammy Awards and sold more than 70 mil­lion al­bums world­wide.

“We had a great time in China. We’re look­ing for­ward to com­ing back and re­peat­ing that suc­cess and shar­ing our mu­sic with our mas­sive fan base in China,” band mem­bers said ahead of their 2015 tour.

Fans in China also con­demned child sex abuse, be­lieved to have trig­gered Ben­ning­ton’s de­pres­sion. The singer had said in in­ter­views that he was mo­lested at age 7. He was also open about his strug­gle with al­co­hol and drugs. Ben­ning­ton leaves six chil­dren from two mar­riages.

Zhao Yilin, 29, of Hu­nan prov­ince, said he first lis­tened to the band as a teenager. He said he loves Linkin Park’s mix of rock, rap and elec­tronic beats. Zhao flew to Hong Kong in 2013 to see them and bought the “most ex­pen­sive” ticket avail­able. “Ben­ning­ton’s voice is unique. His mu­sic was so in­spir­ing and pow­er­ful,” Zhao said.

The band’s lat­est al­bum, One More Light, their sev­enth full-length stu­dio al­bum, was re­leased in May.

Song Ke, CEO of Ali Mu­sic Group, a divi­sion of e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba, said he was work­ing for Warner Mu­sic China in 2001 when the com­pany re­leased Linkin Park’s de­but al­bum Hy­brid The­ory in the coun­try. The al­bum was pro­moted on cam­puses in Bei­jing.

“We no­ticed how many who were stu­dents back then have be­come die-hard fans of the band since,” he said.

The band toured five cities in China in the sum­mer of 2015 as part of their world tour sup­port­ing The Hunt­ing Party, their sixth stu­dio al­bum, re­leased in June 2014. The band played in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Shen­zhen, Chongqing and Xi’an.

Ac­cord­ing to YL Per­for­mance In­vest­ment Ltd, a Bei­jing-based com­pany that pro­moted the 2015 China tour, more than 130,000 peo­ple saw the band on the tour.

Ticket sales pulled in more than 24 mil­lion yuan in a sin­gle day, said Xin Zi, a com­pany ex­ec­u­tive.

Ben­ning­ton was be­lieved to be close to Chris Cor­nell, lead vo­cal­ist from US band Soundgar­den, who in May com­mit­ted sui­cide by hang­ing. Cor­nell would have turned 53 on Thurs­day.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Linkin Park lead singer Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton per­forms at Work- ers’ Sta­dium in Bei­jing dur­ing the band’s China tour in 2015. Ben­ning­ton was found dead on Thurs­day.

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