Chester Bennington, lead singer and iconic frontman of the multiplatinum selling band Linkin Park was found dead in his home yesterday, Thursday, 20th July. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said the death is being investigated as a possible suicide by hanging.
The news comes just weeks after the death of Bennington’s close friend Chris Cornell, the singer and frontman for grunge band Soundgarden and the supergroup Audioslave. Cornell committed suicide by hanging. Chester responded to the tragedy by posting a message online which include the sentence: “I can’t imagine a world without you in it”.
Chester performed Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at Cornell’s funeral at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. The two singers shared a deep and lasting bond. Thursday would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.
Chester Bennington battled with depression and various forms of substance abuse, particularly alcohol, during several intervals of his life and said he had been sexually abused as a child. By his own admission, the struggles he faced directly influenced his music. In a 2008 interview, he said he was able to numb the pain by venting his feelings through his music. The frustration, pain and angst obvious in Bennington’s lyrics became an iconic feature of Linkin Park’s music, which was otherwise diverse, switching regularly been numerous musical genres.
Bennington found his way into the band after a recommendation from his lawyer led to a label sending him the newly recorded demo by the band Xero. He recorded vocals for the music and was accepted into the band, which shortly after changed its name, first to Hybrid Theory and then to Linkin Park.
The band released its debut album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000. The album became a huge success catapulting Chester Bennington to stardom. His “shrapnel-laced howl”, as Rolling Stone once described his vocals, came to define Linkin Park’s unique sound after it featured heavily on the bands hit single In the End.
The follow up album, Meteora, topped the Billboard Top 200 albums chart in 2003 and featured four successful singles including Breaking the Habit, which is actually not about Bennington’s personal struggle with substance abuse, but about a close friend of Linkin Park founding member Mike Shinoda. Meteora displayed a mix of nu metal and rap, which the band is perhaps best known for.
The release of Meteora was followed by a world tour, after which the band took time to work on side projects. Chester started the band Dead Before Sunrise in 2005 (though the band didn’t release a full-length album until 2009) and appeared on work by DJ Lethal.
The bands third studio album, Minutes to Midnight, was released in 2007 and went straight to the top of the Billboard album charts. The album was followed by A Thousand Suns in 2010, Living Things in 2012, Recharged in 2013 and the Hunting Party in 2015.
The band started working on a seventh album in November 2015. Chester Bennington expressed his enthusiasm at the time explaining that the band had a “lot of great material”. The album was released in May, 2017, shooting straight to the number 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. The album inspired criticism of the band, with some claiming Linkin Park had sold out. Bennington responded viciously to the accusations claiming they were a personal attack on his character at those of his fellow bandmates.
Chester Bennington’s body was found at around 9am at his home in the Palos Verdes Estates near L.A. He is survived by his wife and six children.