In Memoriam: Chester Bennington (1976-2017)

In Memoriam: Chester Bennington (1976-2017)

—by , August 2, 2017

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“When my time comes, forget the wrong I’ve done/

Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed/

Don’t resent me and, when you’re feeling empty/

Keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest/

Leave out all the rest.”

—”Leave Out All The Rest” – Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight (2007)

 

Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory was one of the first albums I ever purchased with my own money. I heard “One Step Closer” on the radio prior to its release and made it a point to purchase that disc using my allowance the day it came out: October 24, 2000.

To say I loved Hybrid Theory would be a gross understatement. I loved Hybrid Theory. When the CD kept skipping because I played it too much, and I needed to buy a new one, I was devastated (this was by far my favorite release at the time, and $15 was a lot to an 11-year-old). Fortunately, my parents bought me a new one on Christmas Eve, just after it stopped working properly, and exactly two months after its release.

There isn’t a bad track on Hybrid Theory; to an 11-year-old or a nostalgic 28-year-old, this album is nothing short of sublime. “Papercut”? “One Step Closer”? “In The End”? “Crawling”? “My December”? Are you kidding me? I’ll go as far as to say Hybrid Theory is one of the best, most important debut albums in the history of rock.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the man fronting Linkin Park was an exceptional vocalist by the name of Chester Bennington, who possessed such a fiery, passionate, soothing voice. On July 20, 2017, Chester was found dead as an apparent result of suicide by hanging. He was just 41 years old.

The first time I saw Chester and Linkin Park was in 2001 at the now-defunct Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ as part of the Family Values Tour. You know what it was like begging your parents as a 12-year-old to go to the big rock show? Ha. Fortunately, my father grew up on Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Bob Dylan, etc., and allowed me to go.

That was one of the best nights of my life: October 24, 2001; exactly one year after the release of Hybrid Theory. How fitting was that? Also on the bill were the likes of Static-X and Stone Temple Pilots; Static-X founder Wayne Static died in 2014, and STP vocalist Scott Weiland died in 2015 (ironically enough, Chester replaced Weiland in STP in 2013). Sadly, none of these über-talented singers made it to 50.

It’s hard to comprehend why so many of these rockstars depart the world at such a young age, but Chester was a child of divorce, was sexually abused, had drug and alcohol problems in the past, and sadly enough, apparently committed suicide on what would have been the 53rd birthday of one his close friends, Chris Cornell, who killed himself in the same matter Chester did just two months prior (Bennington sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral and was the godfather of Cornell’s son, Christopher).

While I didn’t listen to too much of Linkin Park after their magnificent sophomore album, Meteora (2003), I can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve done for me. In my angst-filled pre-teen/teenage years, Chester and Linkin Park helped me get through the tough times…and made me feel better during the good times. I will never feel the same way listening to them again after knowing how much Chester was suffering internally, and how hard-hitting his lyrics truly were, even up until the very end with “Heavy”. His rendition of “One More Light” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, dedicated to Cornell just after his passing, will ultimately be remembered as one of his finest moments. As will his version of “One More Light” at what turned out to be his final live show on July 6, 2017, at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, England, in which he hugged his fans and sang his heart out, as if he was saying goodbye to us all.

My thoughts go out to Chester’s family and friends, the entire Linkin Park community, and the millions of fans around the world who are dealing with unspeakable loss.

 

“If they say/

Who cares if one more light goes out?/

In the sky of a million stars/

It flickers, flickers/

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?/

If a moment is all we are/

Or quicker, quicker/

Who cares if one more light goes out?/

Well I do.”

—”One More Light” – Linkin Park, One More Light (2017)


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