Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, actor, and multi-instrumentalist. He was the lead vocalist in the alternative rock band Linkin Park and was previously associated with the band Grey Daze, among others. He had released seven studio albums with Linkin Park and one studio album with his side project Dead by Sunrise.
Bennington's first release with Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, was a commercial success, and he has released several major albums and singles since then. He has worked with Jay-Z, Jonathan Davis, Young Buck, Slash, Julien-K, Busta Rhymes, Steve Aoki, Stormzy and Aaron Lewis. In 2007, Bennington was placed at 46th on Hit Paraders list of "Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists".
Bennington was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and this is where he first met Christy Morris. He took interest in music at a young age, citing Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as early inspirations. Bennington's parents separated in the late 1980s. He later struggled with cocaine and methamphetamine addictions. Bennington eventually overcame his drug addiction and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. He worked at a Burger King restaurant before starting his career as a professional musician.
Before joining Linkin Park, Bennington was a vocalist in Grey Daze, a post-grunge band from Phoenix, Arizona. He left Grey Daze in 1998 but struggled to find another band to play in. After nearly quitting his musical career altogether, Jeff Blue, then the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered Bennington an audition with the future members of Linkin Park. Bennington quit his day job, and took his family to California, where he had a successful audition with Linkin Park, who were then called "Xero". Bennington and Mike Shinoda, the band’s other vocalist, made significant progress together but failed to find a record deal. After facing numerous rejections, Jeff Blue, now a vice president of A&R at Warner Bros., intervened again to help the band sign with Warner Bros. Records.
On October 24, 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, through Warner Bros. Records. Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics to Hybrid Theory based on some early material.
Hybrid Theory was released in the United States on October 24, 2000, following the debut of "One Step Closer" on the radio. It entered the U.S. Billboard 200 charts at #16 in late 2000 and was certified gold by the RIAA five weeks after its release. In 2001, Hybrid Theory sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the year, and it was estimated that the album continued selling 100, 000 copies per week in early 2002. Throughout the following years, the album continued to sell at a fast pace and was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2005 for selling 10 million copies in the U.S. It has sold 29 million copies worldwide as of 2009, which makes it the band's best-selling album and the best-selling debut album of the 21st century.
The follow up to Hybrid Theory would ultimately become Meteora. The band began to work on new material amidst their saturated schedule, spending a sliver of their free time in their tour bus' studio. The band officially announced the production of a new studio album in December 2002, revealing their new work was inspired by the rocky region of Meteora in Greece, where numerous monasteries have been built on top of the rocks. Meteora featured a mixture of the band's previous nu metal and rapcore styles with newer innovative effects, including the induction of a shakuhachi (a Japanese flute made of bamboo) and other instruments. Linkin Park's second album debuted on March 25, 2003, and instantly earned worldwide recognition, going to #1 in the US and UK, and #2 in Australia.
Linkin Park returned to the recording studios in 2006 to work on new material. To produce the album, the band chose producer, Rick Rubin. Despite initially stating the album would debut sometime in 2006, the album was delayed until 2007. The band had recorded thirty to fifty songs in August 2006, when Shinoda stated the album was halfway completed. Bennington later added that the new album would stray away from their previous nu-metal sound. Warner Bros. Records officially announced that the band's third studio album, entitled Minutes to Midnight, would be released on May 15, 2007, in the United States. After spending fourteen months working on the album, the band opted to further refine their album by removing five of the original seventeen tracks. The album's title, a reference to the Doomsday Clock, foreshadowed the band's new lyrical themes. Minutes to Midnight sold over 600,000 copies in its first week, making it one of the most successful debut week albums in some time. The album also took the top spot on the Billboard Charts.
In an interview with Q101's Kevin Manno at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, Bennington stated Linkin Park will be returning to the studio sometime in November to begin recording for their next album. This album, A Thousand Suns, was released in September 2010. Seen by many as a radical departure from the nu-metal genre the band became known for, much of the album has an experimental quality to it. Later on, the band released LIVING THINGS their 5th album. After LIVING THINGS the band went back to their roots with "The Hunting Party" which did much better then LIVING THINGS financially. Three years after that Linkin Park's last album with Bennington, and for the foreseeable future, One More Light was released, which had done with the pop genre instead of rock or metal. Bennington had committed suicide on July 20, 2017. He was 41.
After the arrival of his first child in 2002, Bennington took a short hiatus from Linkin Park in order to spend time with his wife and son. Chester was married to Talinda Bentley, a former Playboy model. Talinda Bennington married Michael Friedman in 2020, and is now Talinda Bennington-Friedman.
Chester had two children with Elka Brand, Jamie M. born May 12, 1996, and Isaiah D. born November 1998 and adopted by Chester in 2006. He has one child with Samantha, Draven Sebastian born April 19, 2002, and three children with Talinda. Tyler Lee, born March 16, 2006, and Lila and Lily born in 2011.
Bennington's parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and his father gained custody of him. After the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD. At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity.
The band staged an intervention regarding Bennington's drug abuse, and he is now considered to be sober.
He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said, "I was knocked around like a rag doll at school, for being skinny and looking different.
Bennington revealed that he had suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until the age of 13. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill people and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. He later revealed the abuser's identity to his father but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.
Despite having prodigious success in the early 2000s, Bennington had medical issues outside of the limelight. He suffered a severe bite from a recluse spider while touring with the OzzFest in 2001. Bennington was plagued with poor health during the making of Meteora and struggled to attend some of the album’s recording sessions. He fell ill during the summer of 2003, and eventually underwent surgery, during the recording for the music video of "Numb". Bennington sustained a wrist injury in October 2007 while attempting to jump off a platform during a show in Melbourne, Australia. Despite the injury, he continued to perform and went to the emergency room after the show. At one point of his life, he sustained a back injury while slipping a plate in his back while playing with his kids. His doctor has confirmed that he was no longer able to jump off platforms during shows.
On July 20, 2017, Chester was found dead at his home by suicide by hanging. His death was on the same day as what would have been his late friend, Chris Cornell's 53rd birthday. Chris Cornell had also died of hanging himself two months prior. Everyone was in shock when this happened. In his autopsy, there were traces of alcohol and ecstasy in his system before his death. On October 27th, Linkin Park and other artists joined together at the Hollywood Bowl live-streaming a concert celebrating Chester's life. To this day almost no activity has come from any of the band members except Mike Shinoda, who released an EP entitled "Post Traumatic EP", Dave Farrell and Joe Hahn who performed in 2018 with Mike Shinoda on rare instances and are in interviews and go out.
Chester will be forever missed by friends, family, and fans.
Chester Bennington teamed up with original Orgy guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, who perform together as Julien-K, for a solo project. Chester's band is called Dead By Sunrise, formerly known as Snow White Tan. Dead By Sunrise released their debut album in 2009. The album is called Out of Ashes. "Both bands are the same. The one where Chester sings and writes is Dead By Sunrise, but when I sing, and Amir and I are the primary writers, it becomes Julien-K and it's more electro and much darker...Julien-K and Dead by Sunrise are basically a creative collective, we're sort of a Warhol-style factory in that sense," explains Ryan Shuck. "Dead by Sunrise is Chester's Julien-K if that makes any sense."
He has also played minor roles in the movies Crank and Crank: High Voltage and sang for a couple of gigs with "Camp Freddy".
Bennington has also appeared in the seventh installment of the 'Saw' in which he played 'Evan' a racist, his association with the film wasn't revealed until the debut of the teaser trailer which began appearing online July 23rd.
He also did a minor album with Stone Temple Pilots. He was initially contracted to be the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, who Bennington called "the greatest band in history". He was forced to leave after some time, to focus on his work with Linkin Park.
He was also featured in the song "Cross Off", created by Mark Morton. His vocals were recorded of April of 2017, and is known to be the last new song he helped create. The album for the song, "Aesthetic", was released in 2018.
Work With Other ArtistsEdit
|2002||Chester Bennington||System||Queen of the Damned Soundtrack|
|2002||DJ Lethal feat. Chester Bennington||State of the Art||-|
|2005||Z-Trip feat. Chester Bennington||Walking Dead||Shifting Gears|
|2018||Mark Morton feat. Chester Bennington||Cross Off||Aesthetic|
|Chester Bennington · Rob Bourdon · Brad Delson · Dave "Phoenix" Farrell · Joe Hahn · Mike Shinoda|
|Albums: Hybrid Theory EP · Hybrid Theory · In the End: Live & Rare · Reanimation · Meteora · Live in Texas · Collision Course · Minutes to Midnight · A Thousand Suns · Living Things|
|"One Step Closer" · "Crawling" · "Papercut" · "In the End" · "Pts.OF.Athrty" · "Enth E Nd" · "Frgt/10" · "Somewhere I Belong" · "Faint" · "Numb" · "From the Inside" · "Lying From You" · "Breaking the Habit" · "Numb/Encore" · "Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You" · "What I've Done" · "Bleed It Out" · "Shadow of the Day" · "New Divide" · "The Catalyst" · "Burn It Down"|
|Dead By Sunrise · Fort Minor · Grey Daze · Julien-K · Linkin Park Underground · Machine Shop Recordings · Music for Relief · Projekt Revolution · Relative Degree · Styles of Beyond · Xero · "We Made It" ·|