Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, burn­ing voice of Linkin Park, took his own life on July 20. 1976-2017

Mojo (UK) - - Contents - Ben My­ers

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


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.

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