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Chester Bennington: A Life Celebrated

On July 20th, 2017, Linkin Park’s frontman and prolific rock vocalist Chester Bennington took his own life. The passing of the genre-defining artist, aged 41, came as a devastation to his multiple generations of fans—Chester’s voice and work helped to shape the lives of so many people in their teen years and beyond. Here, we wish to celebrate the impact that Chester Bennington’s presence had on the world by sharing memories of Chester and the role he played in his fans’ lives. Rest easy Chester, you are truly missed.

Linkin Park will forever be one of my favorite bands. My good friend Felipe introduced me to the band early in high school, around when Meteora was released. I immediately adopted Linkin Park and Chester’s lyrics as my own—they were not only meaningful and soulful, but extremely relatable to what seemed like every situation for my teenage, angst-filled, self. I went on to purchase Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Reanimation, Collision Course, Live in Texas, and Minutes to Midnight, as well as the rare Hybrid Theory EP that I got from joining their fan club, LPU. I went to the Meteora World Tour in LA, a show at the MGM Grand, and two Projekt Revolutions, one of which being all the way up in Marysville, CA, where Felipe and I got rear ended after the concert and almost didn’t make it home. I fell in love with their music through their albums, but the real connection was made at their shows. I’ve been to numerous concerts where bands get on stage, play, and leave, but Linkin Park was far, far from that. I remember their intro in Marysville vividly. A white sheet covered the front of the band and strobes began to flash as Rob starting hitting his drums. Suddenly, the sheet dropped right as their set started and the pit went WILD. What I wouldn’t give to be back in that pit.

Linkin Park, and Chester especially, loved speaking to the fans. He made us feel like he was really there for us. He knew that Linkin Park was nothing without its fans and parts of us would cease to exist if Linkin Park didn’t exist—much like how we feel now. Linkin Park was there for me when I was in need, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that, and for that, I am forever grateful to Bran, Rob, Dave, Joe, Mike, and especially Chester. We love you Chester, thank you for all that you have done for us.” – Andy Kim

“Like most teens in the early ’00s, Linkin Park was my introduction to metal and played an important part in my growing to adulthood. It’s hard to determine the future of the band without Chester. Tonight, I’m going to be playing as many Linkin Park songs as I can in my set in tribute.”Lewis Wake

Throughout my childhood, I cycled through a number of groups, bands, and musicians that truthfully changed my perception of self and others. Growing up, music was an integral aspect of my life that often deepened connections and bonds that I made with others. As I sit here listening to the entirety of ​Minutes to Midnight, the first Linkin Park album that I was introduced to a number of years ago, I try to wrap my mind around why it is that the twelve tracks that belong to this album and their lyrics are so deeply ingrained into my brain. Soon after initially posing this question, the quizzical, confused look on my face vanishes. I understand. I understand that the commonality between songs as different as the angry frustration expressed in ​“Bleed It Out” and the gentle piano in the beautifully written track ​”Valentine’s Day”, is relatability. Relatability – it is an incredibly complex concept that Chester Bennington and Linkin Park’s music made seem so simple.

There have been many times in which I had wanted to give up, many days that I felt had indeed been laid to waste when (consciously or not) lyrics from ​Minutes to Midnight had played through my head, reminding me that I was, in fact, not alone. Time and time again, there have been instances in which ​I had thought that goodbye was the only way, and that the sun would ​not set for me – that I was alone, and that I was void of friends that would care to beg me to stay. When times like these have stepped up to ring the doorbell of my mind, Chester Bennington’s voice, whether it be screaming for there to be no more sorrow, or soothingly singing that it was not an option for me to be the one to leave ​anyone I care about in pieces, he would greet this unwelcome visitor with words that few could hear without feeling empowered. To this unwelcome visitor, these thoughts that Chester evidently struggled with, succumbed to, and sang about, he might have sung one of Linkin Park’s more popular songs, saying that in the end, it doesn’t even matter, and that he had to fall to lose it all, but that in the end it doesn’t even matter. I can sadly and genuinely testify that he, his music, and his influence on my younger self as well as an innumerable number of my contemporaries did in fact matter. To those who struggle like myself and Chester did, please remember: you are not alone, and that you do matter.”Raymond Diamond 

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“The first time I saw Linkin Park live was July 27, 2007, at Projekt Revolution in Marysville, Ca. It was the second concert I had ever been to; my mom was pretty strict about allowing me to go to concerts because of her own very vivid memory of herself and my two aunts running amok in their youth. I had lawn seats and upon arriving, I impulsively bought a pit ticket at the show and left all my friends in the grass. I was 5′ 2”, 90 lbs and 17 years old. After Linkin Park came on, I was nearly smushed by the crowd more than once. I remember people rushing the stage when Chester gave his cathartic screams front and center, kneeling down just feet ahead of us. I was physically lifted off the ground by the force of the crowd and squished between all the men around me, no other females in sight. However, I made no attempt to leave my spot as the third person to the rail. I had waited through three sets and several hours to be there—they were going to have to scrape me off the ground to get rid of me.

Nothing beat seeing my heroes up close, in the flesh, and getting some amazing shots with my little Canon Powershot. I couldn’t wait to get home and put the pictures on MySpace. I had never felt so alive. I had never experienced music in such a way. Seeing Chester and the whole band in action and up close exceeded all my wildest expectations. This was living. This was catharsis. This was rock n’ roll (or nu-metal, for the genre-picky).

I went on to see Linkin Park several more times throughout the years, most recently in 2014 at the Wiltern in a free show put on by KROQ to celebrate Guitar Center’s 50th Anniversary. I remember being shocked by Chester’s vocal sustainability. The years showed in his voice, but certainly not 15 years. He still carried the raw, impassioned energy of every song. Every word, every melody, and every scream still seemed relevant and real even though he was no longer an angsty 20-something, but an adult in his late thirties. As a former vocalist, I could hear his technique tightened up, a sign that he was committed to the health of his body and the longevity of his career. Fifteen years after their release of their debut album, Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park still hit as hard as ever.

Linkin Park gave the world so much. They gave a generation of teens and young adults something to scream to while secluded in their rooms on their hardest days. They gave us innovation and creativity— electronic synths, rock and rap were reconciled under Linkin Park, and they proved it was okay to step away from the norm and find something new and exciting. Their music to this day still sounds fresh and groundbreaking, undoubtedly timeless. They’ve gifted us seven studio albums and two remix albums, all with Chester shining at the forefront.

Chester gave us permission to be angry—with the world, with our relationships, with ourselves, and maybe even for reasons we didn’t understand other than pure emotion. Chester gave every ounce of his soul into his performances. He mastered the art of being fully present while also channeling past pain and emotion. He was one of the most raw, real, and vulnerable rock music icons of our time. It goes without saying that he is fully irreplaceable in the band and in this world. Unfortunately he leaves behind a wife and six children, two as young as six years old.

Chester, you may be gone, but your mark on this world is not.” Lina Alfinito

 

 

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If you are struggling, please reach out. You matter. 

United States Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK 

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Hotlines 

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