Linkin Park fans share grief

Linkin Park fans gather down­town for a salute to the late Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Libby Hill libby.hill@la­times.com

A Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton memo­rial rings out in down­town L.A.

Hun­dreds of Linkin Park fans flooded down­town Los An­ge­les’ Grand Park on Sun­day night, with cell­phones and flame­less can­dles raised to the stars, prov­ing that they cared that one more light had gone out.

“One More Light,” a song off the band’s epony­mous 2017 al­bum, with its lyrics about a life snuffed out too soon, was writ­ten by Mike Shin­oda and Eg White about a friend who died suddenly of can­cer. But it took on new res­o­nance last month af­ter the un­ex­pected death of Linkin Park lead singer Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton.

For Ash­lee Kelly, who or­ga­nized Sun­day’s event with Mari­bel Del Vil­lar Pérez, Ben­ning­ton and Agoura Hills-based Linkin Park were the sound­track of her child­hood — and adult­hood.

“[Ben­ning­ton] was the voice of my youth, and now I’m 30 and he’s still rel­e­vant to my life and feel­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences,” Kelly said Monday.

Af­ter learn­ing of his death, Kelly was search­ing for an out­let for her grief when she came across the memo­rial plan, still in its nascent stages, and reached out to Del Vil­lar Pérez.

What be­gan as an in­ti­mate can­dle­light vigil to be held at the Gui­tar Cen­ter on Sun­set Boule­vard in Hol­ly­wood soon grew into a memo­rial con­cert, thanks to a so­cial-me­dia push and some last-minute hero­ics from vol­un­teers.

Kelly’s only ex­pe­ri­ence with event plan­ning was her own wed­ding, but that didn’t stop the 30-year-old Mary Kay se­nior beauty con­sul­tant from fi­nagling a per­mit from Grand Park.

Typ­i­cally, Kelly said, the fa­cil­ity re­quires per­mits to be ob­tained 30 to 60 days be­fore the event, but time was of the essence for those griev­ing Ben­ning­ton.

“Please,” Kelly re­called beg­ging the Grand Park of­fi­cials, “Please let this hap­pen.”

Per­mits were ob­tained, and Kelly and an es­ti­mated 2,200 in­di­vid­u­als at­tended the Sun­day event, which fea­tured per­for­mances from Signs of Saturn, Dean Schulz, An­drew Cool, Me­mento and the Gatsby Af­fair.

Hun­dreds of fans came and went from the per­for­mance area, singing along to cov­ers of their fa­vorite Linkin Park songs and find­ing com­fort in the idea that they were not alone in their grief.

Though or­ga­niz­ers had not been in di­rect con­tact with mem­bers of Linkin Park or with Ben­ning­ton’s widow, Talinda Ann Bentley, there were signs Sun­day that the out­pour­ing of af­fec­tion had not gone un­no­ticed.

Bentley retweeted an image from the memo­rial along with a mes­sage stat­ing that she and her chil­dren — Ben­ning­ton had six chil­dren, in­clud­ing three with Bentley — felt the love.

Sim­i­larly, Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn posted an image on In­sta­gram Sun­day that ap­peared to be taken from the far edges of the fes­tiv­i­ties, sug­gest­ing that he might have been in at­ten­dance.

That was the whole point.

“As much as this was for the fans,” Kelly said, “it was also to show the fam­ily and the band that we love Ch­ester. We miss him. To say, ‘We’re feel­ing the pain with you.’ ”

Sun­day’s event at Grand Park was an en­tirely volunteer ef­fort, with dozens of in­di­vid­u­als of­fer­ing help for setup and cleanup, photography and videog­ra­phy, as well as per­for­mances from the artists. A GoFundMe has been started to off­set the $8,000 re­quired for per­mits and fees.

In the af­ter­math of the con­cert, Kelly de­scribed her state of mind as an “emo­tional hang­over.”

“I had so many peo­ple walk up to me and say, ‘You have no idea how much I needed this,’ ” Kelly said. “It was re­ally nice to be able to of­fer a lit­tle peace and maybe a lit­tle bit of clo­sure. To have one last mem­ory with Ch­ester and the peo­ple that loved him.”

Ethan Miller

MORE than 2,000 peo­ple at­tended the Grand Park memo­rial to Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, who died July 20.

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