Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
Chester Bennington (1976-2017), lead singer of US nu metal band Linkin Park, tragically passed away July 20, 2017, by suicide, leaving behind his wife Talinda Ann Bentley, and his six children Jaime, Isaiah, Draven, Tyler and twins Lilly and Lila.
The day would have been Chris Cornell’s 53rd Birthday, lead singer of Soundgarden, whose death by suicide occurred just two months before on May 18, 2017.
Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory is one of the US’s best selling albums of all time, currently at 28 on Billboards Greatest Albums of All Time, and was one of the most significant albums in many angst-ridden teenagers’ lives at the start of the 21st Century. Seven years later Linkin Park and Soundgarden united with a tour that ultimately created a bond that was more significant than the music industry could have ever imagined.
The incredible unity between Bennington and Cornell is palpable, as can be seen in their performances of ‘Hunger Strike’ and ‘Crawling’ together. This kinship continued off stage, with Bennington taking on the role of godfather for Cornell’s son, Christopher, who was born in December of 2005.
When you look at the history of these two men, it is no surprise that they formed such a significant connection with the other. Both Bennington and Cornell suffered their own battles with depression and substance abuse, whilst at the same time feeding these emotions into their music, each becoming successful musicians in their own right.
The day Cornell’s death was announced Linkin Park were scheduled to record a live performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live, to promote their new album One More Light. They were to perform their single ‘Heavy’, a song which features singer Kiiara, however, due to the death of Cornell, the band decided that performing ‘One More Light’ was the right choice for that performance, a song about the loss of a friend.
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda spoke to radio.com and said ‘When we were doing a sound check Chester couldn’t even make it through the song, he was getting half way through and getting choked up, and even when we did play the whole song…he kinda just stopped right towards the end, like he missed the last couple of lines of it, and he just couldn’t finish the song.’
The same day Bennington penned an emotional letter to Cornell, with the pain of losing his friend emanating from every word:
I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flood my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moment with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing ‘A day in the life’ by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.
With all of my love.
The impact of this friendship resonates true in the rawness of Bennington’s vocals as he sang Leonard Coen’s ‘Hallelujah’ at Cornell’s funeral on May 26, 2017.
It’s difficult not to at least acknowledge the potential significance of date that Bennington chose to end his life. The pain he must have been feeling we will never know.
Cornell’s widow, Vicky, expressed her own sadness at the news of Bennington’s passing, tweeting ‘Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break anymore … I love you’.
So for now, repetitive thrashings of all things Linkin Park and Soundgarden, is my way of celebrating the friendship and music of these two men. Something that can never die.