Chester Bennington, burning voice of Linkin Park, took his own life on July 20. 1976-2017
Goodbye, Chester Bennington, Pierre Henry, Bobby Taylor and more.
Only one band have sold 30 million copies of a single studio album this century, and that is Linkin Park with their 2000 debut Hybrid Theory. Much of their success was down to the vocal interplay between rapper Mike Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington, whose impassioned roar came from a place of honesty and unease, and transcended genres to make him the most commercially successful rock vocalist of the era. Born Chester Charles Bennington in Phoenix, Arizona in 1976, he was affected by the divorce of his parents at the age of 11; his mother was a nurse and his father a detective who worked on abuse cases. Bennington himself had already been a victim of sexual abuse by an older friend since the age of seven. He was also bullied at school, but found succour in music, art, poetry and drugs, heavily using crack, heroin, acid and methamphetamine throughout his teenage years. He would later address such subjects in his lyrics, lending Linkin Park’s themes of alienation credibility, his skinny everyman looks making him an unlikely underdog icon. A fan of Ministry, Depeche Mode and The Doors, Bennington fronted Sean Dowdell And His Friends? before forming Grey Daze in 1993, releasing two albums and drawing a large following in Arizona. Already married with a son from a previous relationship, Bennington departed the band in 1998 and was on the point of leaving music when A&R man Jeff Blue suggested he audition for Los Angeles band Xero. Changing their name first to Hybrid Theory and then Linkin Park (after Lincoln Park in Santa Monica), the six-piece signed to Warners. Highly polished and centred around Bennington’s melodies, Linkin Park’s music fell squarely in the overlap between nu-metal, rap-rock, alternative rock, electronica and grunge. They found themselves in an elite club of high rollers when Meteora (2003) notched 27 million album sales
“HIS IMPASSIONED ROAR CAME FROM A PLACE OF HONESTY AND UNEASE.”
and 2007’s Minutes To Midnight sold 20 million; their sales figures matched
those who had been decades in the game. They also collaborated with many artists, including Jay-Z, Rakim, Mötley Crüe, Santana and Stormzy. At the height of Linkin Park’s success Bennington formed the grunge-influenced Dead By Sunrise with members of LA nu-metallers Orgy, and in 2013 fulfilled a long-held dream when he joined Stone Temple Pilots for two years. In 2006 he married former Playboy model Talinda Ann Bentley; in all, he had six children by three mothers, including twins and an adopted son. He was open about discussing mental health problems and was close to Chris Cornell; he recently sang Hallelujah at the Soundgarden frontman’s funeral. On a break during a world tour Chester Bennington unexpectedly took his own life at home in California on Cornell’s birthday.