The Legacy of Chester Bennington

The man who turned nu-metal universal.

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The Legacy of Chester Bennington
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Chester Bennington will be remembered by millions of the ‘00s teenagers as a man with a unique voice, a ‘shrapnel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from someone twice his size,’ who turned nu-metal universal.

According to Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian, 'Bennington's decision to sing clearly and openly was more radical than he is given credit for, and indeed more socially valuable. His cleanly articulated tales of emotional struggle gave millions the sense that someone understood them.'

Chester Charles Bennington was born on March 20, 1976, in Phoenix, Arizona. His mother was a nurse, and his father was a police detective who worked with child sex abuse cases and took double shifts. Bennington took an interest in music at a young age, citing bands Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as his early inspirations, and dreamed of becoming a member of Stone Temple Pilots, which he later achieved.

In an interview, Bennington revealed that he had suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. Bennington's parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and his father gained custody of him. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he started using drugs and alcohol. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. In 2011 he eventually overcame his drug addiction, noting in his interviews, 'I just don't want to be that person anymore.'

Grey Daze

Before starting his career as a professional musician, he worked at a Burger King.

In 1992 he became a part of a band called Sean Dowdell And His Friends. The band consisted of Chester Bennington, Sean Dowdell, Chris Goad and Jason Cekoric. According to Sean, the band existed for over a year and a half and played approximately 50-70 shows around the Phoenix area. In 1993 they put out a 3-track demo tape and split up.

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Later, Sean Dowdell and Bennington moved on to form a new post-grunge band, Grey Daze. The band recorded three albums: the Demo (1993), ‘Wake/Me’ (1994), and ‘...no sun today’ (1997).
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Linkin Park

Bennington left Grey Daze in 1998 but struggled to find another band. He was frustrated and almost ready to quit music. When Jeff Blue, the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered him an audition with the future members of Linkin Park, Bennington was an assistant at a digital-services firm in Phoenix. He managed to record the song for his audition in a day, missing his own birthday celebration in the process.

On October 24, 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album, ‘Hybrid Theory,’ through Warner Bros. The album became a commercial success, and Bennington first gained prominence as a vocalist. Linkin Park, with its fusing sounds from nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop, became that approachable yet innovative rock band that the music industry was missing at the time.

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Bennington later described the songwriting experience for the ‘Hybrid Theory’ to Rolling Stone magazine in early 2002:

‘It's easy to fall into that thing – 'poor, poor me,' that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself. But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down.’

The album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2005, making it the best-selling debut album of the decade, as well as one of the few albums to ever hit that many sales.

Mike Shinoda, recollected in one of his interviews to Vice.com:

‘When we first heard the Linkin Park song on the radio, that was The Moment. When you hear your song on your hometown station. For our singer Chester, that was in Arizona. We were on our first tour in a rented RV. I was driving, and we pulled up to his parents’ house as we were listening to the radio. The DJ gave this spiel about this hometown kid, his song has just come out, and we were FREAKING out. Chester ran into his house screaming, was like “Dad! Turn on the radio!” We were in the car just fucking jumping around and celebrating.’

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Their following studio album Meteora continued the band's success, topping the Billboard 200 album chart in 2003, and was followed by extensive touring and charity work around the world. It went only uphill from there for the band.
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In 2003, MTV2 named Linkin Park, the sixth-greatest band of the music video era and the third-best of the new millennium. In 2012, the band was voted as the greatest artist of the 2000s in a Bracket Madness poll on VH1. In 2014, the band was declared as the Biggest Rock Band in the World Right Now by Kerrang!. The band recorded seven studio albums and had sold over 70 million records worldwide. Linkin Park has also won two Grammy Awards.

Dead by Sunrise

Dead by Sunrise started to form in 2005 while Chester Bennington was writing songs for Linkin Park's album ‘Minutes to Midnight.’

Bennington said:

‘I came up with a few songs that felt and sounded really good, but I knew they weren’t right stylistically for Linkin Park. They were darker and moodier than anything I’d come up with for the band. So I decided to work on them on my own rather than turn them over and have them transformed into Linkin Park tracks.’
Chester co-founded the band with Orgy and Julien-K members Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck.

Recording of the band's debut album began in 2008. Working simultaneously on his solo album and Linkin Park's next record, Bennington recorded ‘Out of Ashes’ with producer Howard Benson and bandmates from Julien-K.

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Stone Temple Pilots

In 2013, the Stone Temple Pilots performed with Chester Bennington (as an official member) at the 21st Annual KROQ Weenie Roast and the Live 105 BFD festival near San Francisco.

The band released a five-track EP titled ‘High Rise’ on October 8, 2013, through Play Pen, LLC, credited as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. Bennington stated in interviews that singing lead vocals in Stone Temple Pilots was his lifelong dream.

Chester reflected on joining Stone Temple Pilots, stating:

‘Every band has its own kind of vibe. Stone Temple Pilots has this sexier, more classic rock feel to it. Linkin Park is a very modern, very tech-heavy type of band. I grew up listening to these guys. When this opportunity came up, it was just like a no-brainer.’
He left the band on good terms due to his commitments with Linkin Park in 2015.
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We would like to finish the story with words of Warner Bros Records chief executive and chairman Cameron Stang:
'Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family, his bandmates and his many friends.'
Linkin Park's latest studio album, 'One More Light,' topped the US charts earlier this year. 
Chester Bennington took his own life on July 20th, 2017. He was 41.

Rest in Peace, Chester. You sure will be missed.

54 comments sorted by best / new / date

    STEVENisaGHOST
    The more I've listened to all of their albums in the last day or so, the more I've realized that Linkin Park has literally been one long 18-year-old suicide note.
    jetmundmania1
    Its really sad how glorified people are getting after they die. Now, you can downvote this to hell, but lets face it. If Gwar said something about Linkin Park being a joke the day before Chester died then everyone would laugh along and remind people of Linkin Parks latest album. Its just so frustrating to see a mans reputation go from "awesome vocalist" during his prime time, to "fucking soft ass sellout edgy shit" only to be risen up to glorification when he's dead. We're all giant hypocrites... shame on us
    imbatman1312
    I think his suicide does change everything though, or at least put the last few months in a better context. It shows that he has been struggling recently, and that the music community's reaction to the new LP album must have affected him in a big way. That doesn't mean any one of us is to blame, no matter how harsh or rude we were. We had no idea what he was going through. The least we can do is understand that the reason he has got so much shit (that possibly seemed deserved at the time) might have been a symptom of his illness.
    Bunkerman
    You don't speak I'll of the dead for one. Secondly, the band is like an old friend, they make a shitty decision (or put out a shitty album), you're going to eat on them for it. But if something bad happens to them, you're going to put on your big boy pants and let bygones be bygones. What I'm saying is forget the wrongs that he's done, and keep him in our memories. Leave out all the rest.
    Paperjace
    Coming from the perspective of someone who was never been a fan of Linkin Park (as in, I didn't follow the personal lives of the members or read much into the lyrics), I always took their songs as just "sad lyrics" and didn't really look much into it.  A lot of bands have songs about being sad so it's easy to think, "Ah well, they were just sad when they wrote the song."  When an artist takes their own life, the lyrics are now different.  There's more gravity to them and suddenly you can see that they were a cry for help and weren't just a means of catharsis.  
    TheBlisterer
    Thing is, Chester should be remembered for the brilliant work he did, it far outnumbered any rubbish work.
    Djaydjay
    OTOH, it completely makes sense. When speaking about him in the last months, people were speaking about what they think of him at that point. Once someone dies, you speak about his whole career/life, and that changes the perspective a lot (especially in this case).
    friday.the.13th.jasonx
    It's really sad how people always act like they're such caring and understanding people when a celeb commits suicide but yet they all ignore and walk right past a homeless beggar. They ignore suffering when it's right in front of them even though most of the time they have spare change on them to help out. Or even just saying "sorry I have no money on me" is better than just outright ignoring the person.
    black.heartcinema
    I have seen linkin park many times even a year ago. I got all there cds and right when I heard the news before I was sad first thing I thought was ohhh hear it comes everyone has been bullying this and for the last couple of years because of stp and because of there new cd but now everyone is gonna say how amazing they are
    Anjohl
    It's the death cult. Same thing with Heath. Noone cares about him, but him dying before that crappy Batman movie came out made him an instant legend. Some with that guy from that stupid car racing series who actually died in a car crash.
    PRSguitars87
    Crappy Batman movie? Said no one ever.
    Anjohl
    Said anyone with any cinematic taste. The first Nolan movie was interesting, and the last one had some good moments, but the middle one was horrible, with Eckhart the only decent thing.
    PRSguitars87
    Right. 92% on RT, most critically and commercially successful comic book/ super hero ever made. I would to hear what you consider a great movie.
    Eifler121
    Cut the shit. You can only be a sell out if you were once considered legitimate. The reason the Gwar comment was inappropriate has everything to do with the timing, and doesn't make anybody a hypocrite. Heavy still sucks, and it's a tragedy that he killed himself. Neither are connected, and it's unfortunate that that's his last monument to his talent was a bad album. When news happens, people talk about it want information, and reminisce. There's nothing wrong with that.
    smalRaptor
    I haven't changed my profile image since I joined this website many moons ago. This band is 100 percent of the reason I started playing guitar and singing. I've bought every album they've put out, and have spent countless hours watching interviews. I'm never going to forget this man.
    alex720
    Just listened to "Blackout" last night and hearing that gave me the chills, Chester was such a monster of a vocalist. So many memories of what was once my favorite band, it's heartbreaking to witness this tragedy. Also gives way more meaning to songs like "Leave Out All The Rest" and even "Heavy"
    PRSguitars87
    Remember a week ago when ALL OF YOU were blasting his bands new album because it was "pop" and just "selling out." Now you all care so much. Guilt much???? The man was depressed and all anyone did on this website was put him down even more
    ShredderMan1
    Strait up. If your gonna take a big steaming stinking shit on his music cause you didnt like it at least stand by it. Ive always hated his music but did i want him to get killed or hurt himself. No fuggin way. Justcause i think his music sux dont mean he sux. R I P bro. Sorry this came to be the way it did. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and millions of people who dont think his music sux. His guy was a human being lets at least treat him like one with some fucking respect
    TheBlisterer
    The important thing is guys, is that Chester should and will be remembered for everything that was right in his career. I didn't like their last few works much, but man have LP released some great records, and a lot of lyrics were often ethical, political and social related, that spoke to me when I was 18 when I didn't understand why the world was the way it was. Chester provided clarity, he was a messenger all along. He should never be forgotten. Let the lyrical genius rest in peace. We love you Chester! <3
    d.floresumana
    I love his album with STP, that song Out Of Time is a great rock n' roll tune. I hope someone puts it on Spotify soon hehe!
    1mmoralthang
    Stone Temple Pilots are going to have a tough time finding a new singer? Both official ones dead within a few years? Shiiiiittttt the band is haunted!
    vdnotthestd
    We need to re-think suidide. Suicide (primarily as a result of depression or a mental illness) is basically fatal organ failure. Heart Attack. Lung Cancer. Brain Tumor. Suicide. Its a part of the Human condition. There is no shame in it. It can effect anyone
    Anjohl
    Um, no? You CHOOSE to kill yourself, and you CHOOSE to not get help when you start down that path. That's a lot different from having a stroke, or heart attack
    Zan595
    No one chooses to be suicidal. Depression is caused by extreme chemical imbalances affecting the brain, not the choice to be depressed and suicidal. Even when suicidal people receive proper treatment, therapy, and prescriptions, sometimes it just isn't enough to help, the same way that chemotherapy can't always halt cancer from spreading. When someone is born with a mental disorder, it can be very difficult to express their thoughts and condition to someone without the disorder. That's why it's easier to feel sympathy for someone with a heart condition or diabetes; they still think on the same level that you do.
    False_God
    You're right that suicide is different to a physical event. But you're also naive to think that humans are so one dimensional, whereby you only focus on the surface. A lot more goes on within. The mind, if altered by the multiple mind altering substances, can be uncontrollable. You don't get to choose, it chooses you. It's a darkness that follows you.
    goingon95
    Nah. You usually choose behaviours that lead up to strokes and heart attacks. It's called slow suicide. You've obviously never been seriously depressed before either.
    boa_sz
    I feel that this is a bit too much hype. RIP, etc., but Linkin Park wasn't really a big deal.
    GoToSleep
    They were a huge deal. As the article states, if you were a teenager in the 2000's you already know this quite well.
    svelle
    There's not a lot of bands that sell more than 10 million copies of their album in the us. So yeah... I'd say there were a big deal. And the fact that there is this much of a hype also adds to the fact.
    boa_sz
    I mean a lot of musicians died in the past few years who were much bigger for me than LP and as I remember there wasn't every article about then on UG. This band was in the spotlight for a few years in the early 2000's and disappeared.
    BLeeTheKing
    Disappeared? Bleed It Out was a huge song, so was New Divide. They had a pretty sucessful single off their last album and Heavy is getting tons of airplay right now. They never went anywhere. They were selling out stadiums this month.
    balisain
    True. RIP to the guy but calling him 'the man who turned nu-metal universal' is just 100% hype. They were kinda big in the nu-metal thing in the early 2000s with their first record and this led them to be included on an Ozzfest compilation but it was bands like Slipknot, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Static-X and such that were at the forefront of the whole nu-metal movement during the late 90s/early 2000s. Especially Limp Bizkit. I can remember almost every kid back then singing the chorus of Rollin every chance they get. If this 'man who turned nu-metal universal' label is legit, it would fit Fred Durst a whole lot more than Bennington. Linkin Park started to cater to a more pop-oriented, mainstream audience that's definitely not the nu metal market after their first record but that doesn't mean they 'turned nu-metal universal'. Besides, Linkin Park's lyrics (at least in their first record, if I remember correctly) were clean (e.g. no swear/curse words) and not really that 'rebellious', so to speak. Remember, kids in the nu metal movement during that time love profanity in their music and if you were in a nu metal band whose songs contain a lot of profanity in your lyrics, you'd definitely sell a lot of records than those who don't. I think that contributed to Slipknot and Limp Bizkit to becoming heroes in the nu metal movement.
    ruipalmeira
    agree on the definition of the man who turned nu-metal universal.  but chester is/was and will always be a better musician, composer, songwriter, performer, etc.
    balisain
    Well that's purely subjective. I have a feeling that such opinions would vary a lot if the circumstances were different (e.g. the guy not having died) but hey, that's 21st century internet era for you when celebrities die.
    ruipalmeira
    but that was always my opinion regarding those 2, not related to his death. fred might have charisma but he lacks too much on technical qualities for a frontman/vocalist, imo
    balisain
    If we're talking personal opinions and technical qualities then I'd wager on Jonathan Davis, Chino Moreno, Lajon Witherspoon, Serj Tankian, Chad Gray, and Corey Taylor...all whom (IMHO) are miles better than Mr. Bennington.
    ruipalmeira
    But we're talking about Fred Durst vs Chester. Thus bringing other nu metal singers into the discussion makes no sense.
    balisain
    In my first post, I only used Fred Durst as an example as someone more fitting for the 'man who turned nu-metal universal' label but I never intended to start a Fred Durst vs. Chester discussion which is why I mentioned if such a label is even legit. Also I never said Fred Durst is the best nu metal singer out there, the others that I mentioned are definitely better than him. Obviously that label is a media hype thing. But if we're talking Fred Durst vs Chester then yes my vote goes to Fred Durst immediately as I always found Chester's voice to be too whiny and his growls are quite annoying. I remember there was talk after the release of Hybrid Theory that Linkin Park could actually be a better band without Chester and they could go on with Mike Shinoda taking lead vocals. I remember liking that 'It's Goin' Down' tune with The X-Ecutioners and I always thought if Linkin Park went down that path and paired with heavier guitars, they could've had a more ballsy-er sound.
    PRSguitars87
    Lets take a huge dump on LPs new album because, clicks! Wait, Chester died? Time to play tbe sympathy card, more clicks! - Ug