Outpouring of emotions after death of Chester Bennington
I was eight years old when I first heard Chester’s high-pitched, tortured growls on the radio. It was unlike anything I’d heard before. Visceral and in-your-face. Yet calm and cool when Mike Shinoda came in with the rap verses. After waiting for the DJ to announce the band name when the song was finished, I immediately began pestering my mom to take me to Tower Records. Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park’s debut album, was the first music I discovered and then bought on my own.
Chester Bennington died yesterday after hanging himself. He was 41. It’s the first celebrity death that has really made me think about my own mortality. The deaths of Prince and Robin Williams were huge, sure, but they were more impactful on the generation before me. For an angsty suburban kid in the early 2000s, Bennington and Linkin Park were everything.
Of course, they got a lot of flack later on for being at the center of the rap-rock age, which many people saw as the beginning of the end for rock music. But the bands from the era that Linkin Park inspired, like Limp Bizkit, are more to blame for the unoriginality and uninspired anger. LP was always innovative, always unique. There was soul behind Chester’s screams. And a hell of a lot of talent, too.
His incredible ability to hit two different notes simultaneously was one of a kind, solidifying him as one of the greatest rock voices of all time.
The reason for the soul behind his rage was because his anguish came from a genuine place. He was sexually abused by an older man at the age of 7. Though the abuse continued until the age of 13, he kept quiet about it for fear of people calling him gay or not believing him. Throughout high school he was mercilessly and physically bullied for “being skinny and looking different”, eventually turning to alcohol and drug abuse for comfort.
While working at a Burger King after high school, Chester practiced screaming everyday until he cultivated his signature voice. That voice took him to massive worldwide success and fame.
But the demons continued to haunt Chester for the rest of his life. And sadly, amidst the suicide of his close friend, singer Chris Cornell, the failure of his second marriage, and the disappointment of Linkin Park’s latest album, those demons became too much for him to handle.
It was because of his pain that Bennington was able to champion countless people struggling with their own internal battles. He saved more people than he’ll ever really know. And for that, we say thank you, Chester.
Cover photo via
Rich Fury/Getty Images