Mu­si­cal legacy of dark­ness and hope

Linkin Park front­man Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton dies at 41.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - By AN­THONY McCART­NEY and MARK KENNEDY

LINKIN Park lead singer Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, whose screech­ing vo­cals helped the rock-rap band be­come one of the most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful acts in the 2000s, was found dead in his home near Los An­ge­les on Thurs­day, the Los An­ge­les County coro­ner said. He was 41.

Coro­ner spokesman Brian Elias said au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Ben­ning­ton’s death as an ap­par­ent sui­cide at Pa­los Verdes Es­tates, but no ad­di­tional de­tails are avail­able.

Band co-founder and pro­ducer Mike Shin­oda said on Twit­ter he was “shocked and sad­dened.”

“Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton was an artiste of ex­tra­or­di­nary tal­ent and charisma, and a hu­man be­ing with a huge heart and a car­ing soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beau­ti­ful fam­ily, his band­mates and his many friends,” Warner Bros Records CEO and chair­man Cameron Stang said in a state­ment.

The Grammy Award-win­ning group sold more than 10 mil­lion copies of their 2000 de­but, Hy­brid The­ory, which fea­tured the megahit and an­them, In

The End.

They sold an­other six mil­lion with 2003’s mul­ti­plat­inum Meteora. Both al­bums ex­plored feel­ings of frus­tra­tion and fury.

The suc­cess helped Linkin

Park be­come Bill­board’s No. 1 act of the decade for rock songs and al­ter­na­tive songs.

Ben­ning­ton’s voice could soar with pierc­ing strength or de­scend to a whis­per. Rolling Stone once called it a “shrap­nel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from some­one twice his size.”

The band also sold mil­lions with its remix al­bum, Rean­i­ma­tion, and its mash-up record with Jay-Z, Col­li­sion Course. They won Gram­mys for Best Hard Rock Per­for­mance in 2001 for Crawl­ing and best Rap/Sung Col­lab­o­ra­tion for Numb/En­core in 2005. Linkin Park was sched­uled to be­gin its tour next week.

Ben­ning­ton strug­gled with drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tions at var­i­ous times dur­ing his life. He said he had been sex­u­ally abused as a child and was home­less for months be­fore the band found fame.

Linkin Park re­leased its most re­cent al­bum, One More Light, in May. It was a CD that di­vided crit­ics and fans alike for its em­brace of moody pop. One song on the al­bum, Heavy, opens with the words: “I don’t like my mind right now.”

Although the band had al­ways ex­per­i­mented with dif­fer­ent sounds, some claimed Linkin Park had sold out, which Ben­ning­ton de­nied. One More Light be­came the band’s fifth No. 1 al­bum de­but on the Bill­board 200.

“If you like the mu­sic, fan­tas­tic. If you don’t like it, that’s your opin­ion too. Fan­tas­tic. If you’re say­ing we’re do­ing what we’re do­ing for a com­mer­cial or mone­tary rea­son, try­ing to make suc­cess out of some for­mula. then stab your­self in the face!” Ben­ning­ton told NME mag­a­zine.

Ben­ning­ton was close friends with Chris Cor­nell, who died by hang­ing ear­lier this year, and per­formed Leonard Co­hen’s Hal­lelu­jah at the Soundgar­den singer’s memo­rial in late May. He was the god­fa­ther of Cor­nell’s 11-year-old son, Chris.

“The Cor­nell fam­ily is over­whelmed by the heart­break­ing news about Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton which trag­i­cally comes so soon af­ter their fam­ily’s own loss,” said a Cor­nell fam­ily spokesper­son.

“They open up their lov­ing arms to Ch­ester’s fam­ily and share in the sor­row with all those who loved him.”

When he got his big break in 1999, Ben­ning­ton was an as­sis­tant at a dig­i­tal-ser­vices firm in Phoenix. A mu­sic ex­ec­u­tive sent him a demo from the band Xero, which needed a lead singer. (He had been rec­om­mended by his at­tor­ney.)

Ben­ning­ton wrote and recorded new vo­cals over the band’s play­ing and sent the re­sults back. He soon got the gig and the band then changed its named to Hy­brid The­ory, then Linkin Park.

Ben­ning­ton told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2010 that be­cause of the sound the band is known for – fus­ing sounds from nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop – it was vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to sat­isfy their many kinds of fans.

“We’re mak­ing mu­sic for us, that we like. We’re not mak­ing mu­sic for other peo­ple,” he said. “We’re not think­ing, ‘Let’s make a pie­graph of all our fans and find out how many peo­ple fit in what­ever cat­e­gory and then make the per­fect al­bum for them.’ Like, that would be ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous.”

Ben­ning­ton was mar­ried to his sec­ond wife, Talinda, and is sur­vived by six chil­dren. – AP

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