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.

While Linkin Park was writing Minutes to Midnight, Bennington wrote some songs that didn’t quite fit the style of the band. He decided to keep the songs for his solo project, Dead By Sunrise, as the songs “were darker and moodier than anything I’d come up with for the band.” “So I decided to work on them on my own,” he described, “rather than turn them over and have them transformed into Linkin Park tracks.”

While in a period of partying, Bennington came up with the side project’s name, frequently unsure if his self-destructive lifestyle was going to let him make it to the next day. And so, by breaking out of the vicious path he was on, Dead By Sunrise and their first EP Out of Ashes was born.

The song Give Me Your Name was written for his wife and all she’s done for him. Bennington met her through mutual friend Ryan Shuck, and in December of 2004, they started dating. In Bennington’s own words, “When I met Talinda, I knew she was the one pretty instantly. She moved into my place after a week and a half or something like that.”

Chester Bennington

Pictured: Chester Bennington and wife Talinda. Photo Credit: The Sun

Aside from the solo work with Dead By Sunrise, he made a number of guest appearances in other artists’ projects. In 2015, he made an appearance on DJ Z-Trip’s debut album Shifting Gears. Bennington also showed up at Coachella for Z-Trip’s performance that year. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the song Home Sweet Home was rerecorded by Mötley Crüe with Chester Bennington on lead vocals. Bennington had also recorded the haunting song System for the movie Queen of the Damned.

Bennington made a cameo appearance in the 2006 film Crank, and later appeared in another cameo for the film’s sequel Crank: High Voltage. Bennington also had a role as the ill-fated racist, Evan, in 2010’s Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.

Bennington also struck up many friendships with other artists he idolized growing up, most notably, with Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave) and Scott Weiland (of the Stone Temple Pilots). Cornell and Bennington met in 2007 while on tour with their respective bands, and even performed together on occasion.

Bennington’s family and band mates said he had taken Cornell’s death very hard. “I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” he wrote in an open letter. Mike Shinoda said that Bennington became so overcome, he was unable to complete a performance of One More Light. The song is about friends who have passed away, and a song they played on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to pay tribute to Cornell.

Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell’s Friendship

My heart aches for the remaining members of Linkin Park, and for Bennington’s wife and children. His history with the band spanned over 20 years, and they seemed like brothers more than band mates.

Chester Bennington is a shining example of overcoming all obstacles in order to follow your dreams. He always dreamed of becoming a rock star, and had told everyone that’s what he was going to be when he grew up. Not only did he make it in Linkin Park, but he was able to fulfill another dream: To be a singer for Stone Temple Pilots.

He was offered the opportunity not long after Scott Weiland was fired from the group. Bennington and STP teamed up for a tour, and the five-track EP High Rise. Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington’s friendship wasn’t negatively affected by him teaming up with the band, largely because Weiland knew that Bennington didn’t join STP out of spite.

Linkin Park’s constantly evolving music serves as a reminder that life is constantly in a state of flux, and that there are new challenges to face every day. The formula that they used to create Hybrid Theory worked, but they didn’t back down from who they were. As they grew up, their music would evolve. Once they found a sound they liked, they experimented with it.

It’s not too surprising that One More Light is the fifth Linkin Park album to reach the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 Chart. Their music has been the soundtrack to many people’s lives so far.

Who other than Chester Bennington to pull us out of the dark and to hold our hand during the darkest of times? He was amazingly talented, with a voice that Rolling Stone once aptly called a “shrapnel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from someone twice his size.” It was the kind of voice that inspired myself and countless other fans to learn how to sing from the heart.

In the wake of Bennington’s death, his legacy should not only be in music, but in the daily struggle that mental illness brings. So, put on some of your favorite Linkin Park music, and reach out to those you love to ensure they’re getting the support they need.

You never know who needs it most.

Rest in peace, Chester. You were an amazingly talented and kind soul, and the world won’t be the same without you in it.

Check out this amazing tribute to Chester Bennington by a group who go by the name of RocknMob. They organize a large amount of people (we’re talking over 100 musicians) to cover popular rock songs.

What’s your favorite Linkin Park song? Do you have a Chester Bennington memory you’d like to share? Drop a line in the comments and let us know! Much love.

In case you or someone you know needs support, here are some resources:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
Crisis Text Line, the free, nationwide, 24/7 text message service for people in crisis, is here to support. For support in the United States, text HELLO to 741741 or message at facebook.com/CrisisTextLine.

For support outside the US, find resources at http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

Chester Bennington

Photo Credit: Linkin Park

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.

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