by Chris Conde
In 2000, my brother and I each got a CD from our grandmother for Christmas. I got Vast’s Music For People my brother got Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory (I think someone at the record shop helped her pick those out for us). Being a huge fan, back then, of nu-metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn etc., I spent less time listening to Vast and more time soaking in Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington trading off rap verses and screaming choruses over glitched guitars chords and turntable scratches.
Shit was magical (I’m actually re- listening to it while I write this).
As we all know, the band exploded, securing a ton of awards for Hybrid Theory including Grammy’s for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Crawling” in 2002 and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Encore/Numb” with Jay-Z.
Even though the band managed to evolve beyond the increasingly unpopular sound of nu-metal and rap-rock, somewhere in the mid-to-late aughts, Linkin Park’s movement towards alt-pop was met with much criticism from their original fanbase, but still continued to rank high on the music charts like with One More Light which garnered the number one spot on the Billboard Music chart and was released back in May of this year.
So, when my co-worker/work-wife Jessica Elizarraras told me from across the office (her desk is like 10 feet away), that reports of vocalist Chester Bennington's death were starting to roll in, my heart sank. And because it’s my job to report shit that I think our readers (like you) might want to know, I busted out a quick report about Bennington’s untimely suicide, which just happened to be on the late Chris Cornell’s birthday – another alumnus of rock and roll fame who took his life earlier this year.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ the singer hanged himself at a residence in Palos Verdes Estates in L.A. County. Bennington’s body was discovered just before 9 a.m. Thursday, July 20.
The band was scheduled to start a tour with a concert on July 27 in Mansfield, Massachusetts with a stop in San Antonio on August, 23.
Given San Antonio's love of all things alternative (see KISS' perma-aughts streaming), this death echoes especially loud.
Vocalist Bryan Scott of the recently-reunited, local nu-metal act Union Underground headlined a tour in in 2000 — Linkin Park opened. Scott released this statement to the Current:
“I'm shocked and saddened today by the news of Chester Bennington's apparent suicide. My condolences to his family and bandmates in Linkin Park. I've shared the stage, and some laughs, with him many times. It was a privilege having him and the guys on the road, as an opening act believe it or not, with Union Underground just prior to Hybrid Theory being launched. I remember him playing me rough mixes one night of ‘In The End’ and ‘Crawling’ and I commented that ‘this record will easily do 10 million copies’ and I meant it. Of course I was off by about 6 or 7 million, as it went on to top 16 or 17 million copies. The phenomenal success of LP is well deserved and I've personally been inspired by their prolific and experimental songwriting and killer production skills over the years. And as a singer I've always been very humbled by his monstrous and multi-faceted voice. We will be robbed of new melodies to enjoy, but your amazing body of work lives on forever.”
Local artist Nina Diaz who fronts the well-known rock outfit Girl in a Coma commented, “I wasn't influenced by him really, but of course respect what he did. I know he was a fan of Depeche Mode so I thought that was cool. And he sang with STP for a second. I mean, I admit I've been suicidal, but it goes away eventually. Just crazy when someone really does it. What goes through their mind till the end!?"
While Linkin Park has yet to release an official statement, co-vocalist/rapper and rhythm guitar player Mike Shinoda did confirm Bennington's passing on Twitter.
Despite Linkin Park’s move towards a less angsty sound, with his piercing screams, contemplative lyrics and soaring vocal melodies, Chester Bennington’s contribution to rock n roll won’t soon be forgotten.