Chester Bennington Was the Hero of My Adolescence [Editorial]

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

Linkin Park

Photo Credit: Linkin Park

This is around the time when I was first introduced to their music.

I had just started high school that fall, and like many teens, I was struggling with depression. When I was seven years old, I faced a great deal of abuse at the hands of my birth parents. Due to this, my younger brother and I were placed in the foster system. We would go through many foster homes over a short period of time, until we were placed in a home where the foster parents adopted us.

I was 13 when I found Linkin Park’s music. And I mean, I literally found a CD case laying in the gutter on my way home from school. Being my inquisitive self, I picked it up, and while looking through it, I realized what a treasure trove this was. There were so many CDs in there! Keep the Faith (Bon Jovi, 1992); The Best of DJ Bobo; Greatest Hits (Bruce Springsteen, 1995) and Meteora (Linkin Park, 2001) are the ones that I can most recall seeing. Little did I know it, but the album Meteora would change my life.

I managed to make another friend in school, and that was pretty much because I was a hardcore Linkin Park fan. It was Monday morning, and I was still high on the excitement at seeing Linkin Park that weekend. A girl in my Science 8 class heard me talking about it and we quickly struck up a friendship. It seemed like these were the best years of my life.

The year started out great, or at least I thought so. I had a great group of friends and a family that loved me. One friend had even gifted me with the Linkin Park: Live In Texas set. Life was good. The last thing I expected was for things to turn sour.

It started one day in English 9. By way of a note passed to me, I found out that my friend didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, but she didn’t state why. I tried to get some clarification by responding to her note with one of my own and, everything went south from there. She started spreading rumors about me and bullying me. And as it so frequently goes, the bullying escalated.

After a particularly nasty incident, I tried getting help from the Principal’s office to no avail. I felt as if I had no options left. At that point, I was listening to Meteora on repeat just for an escape from the loneliness I was feeling. More than anything else, listening to that album made me feel as though I wasn’t alone.

Thankfully, a longtime friend noticed that I was doing very poorly and told a teacher. My adoptive parents were called, and even though I didn’t receive a lot of support from them when I reached out, I was nearing the end of a dark tunnel. I still don’t fully understand why she tried to make me the most hated person in school, but it definitely left its mark on me.

Chester Bennington

Not only did their music tap into the experiences that I and countless other teens were feeling, Chester was always open about his struggles with mental health and addiction. He made it clear in many interviews that mental illness is a lifelong struggle, and that’s something that resonates on a massive scale.

In a 2016 interview with Metal Hammer, Bennington shared that “in 2006, I had a choice between stopping drinking or dying. I did some counseling with the guys and they really opened up and told me how they felt. I had no idea that I had been such a nightmare.” He went on to say that he “didn’t want to be that guy.”

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.