Reports started to drift out of California after 3 pm EDT today (July 20) saying that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington had died. The cause of death has been determined to be a suicide by hanging. His body was discovered at his home in the 2800 block of Via Victoria in Palos Verdes Estates home in Los Angeles at 8:56 PDT today (Thursday, July 20). Firefighters originally thought they were responding to a cardiac arrest, but when they arrived, they found a male victim who had hanged himself. They cleared the scene by 9:29 am.
Chester has had substance abuse problems in the past–something that he often talked and sang about (Think “I can’t help the fact that everyone can see these scars/Time won’t heal this damage anymore/Don’t turn your back on me/I won’t be ignored” from “Numb”)–but there was no indication that he’d relapsed. Things were a long way from those early days in Linkin Park when he was kind of out of control. In an interview with The Guardian he said “The tours we did in the beginning, everybody … was either drinking or doing drugs. I can’t think of any that were sober.”
He once talked about having suicidal thoughts because of childhood abuse trauma involving an older male. He offhandedly mentioned that in that same Guardian interview.
“When I was young, getting beaten up and pretty much raped was no fun,” he says suddenly and disarmingly. “No one wants that to happen to you and honestly, I don’t remember when it started. But about four years ago I went to visit my mom and I saw a picture of myself and I remember very clearly when that picture was taken. All of a sudden, because I had kids, I looked at it and thought: ‘Wow, that’s what I looked like.’ And then I remembered. Oh my God. I remember that stuff happening to me at that stage and even thinking about it now makes me want to cry. Oh my God, that was fucking happening to me and I was just that little, much earlier than I’d remembered. My God, no wonder I became a drug addict. No wonder I just went completely insane for a little while.”
Better yet, here’s a version of that song with all the music stripped away. It’s just Chester and his rage.
Bennington was born in Phoenix and joined up with Linkin Park in 1999. Although they were birthed by the nü-metal era of the late 80s, their mix of heavy rock and rap wasn’t nearly as polarizing as, say Limp Bizkit or Korn. In fact, Linkin Park found a sweet spot that allowed them to tell tens of millions of records, even in an era dominated by file-sharing and shifting tastes of rock fans. Their debut, Hybrid Theory, sold 10 million on its own just in the US, immediately setting them up as a powerhouse act.
Linkin Park thrived through 00’s, although their relationship with their label was often fraught with disagreements. In the end, though, Linkin Park always got their way.
When the band wasn’t busy, Chester often went to work for PETA, a cause that he wholeheartedly supported.
In 2013, Bennington was drafted as Scott Weiland’s replacement in Stone Temple Pilots, something he enjoyed doing for almost three full years. He quit the group to go back to Linkin Park in November 2015. Less than a month later, the man he replaced was dead of an overdose.
More death was to follow when Chester lost Chris Cornell, one of his best friends. Earlier this year, he sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at his Chris Cornell’s funeral. Today, by the way, would have been Chris’ 53rd birthday. A coincidence?
He wrote this letter to Chris on Facebook.
— Chester Bennington (@ChesterBe) May 18, 2017
— Linkin Park Live (@LPLive) May 26, 2017
And then there’s this tribute to Chris.
He leaves behind a large family. His first wife was Samanthan Marie Olit with whom he had son Draven Sebastian. With his second wife, Talinda Bentley, there are twin daughters Lily and Lila, son Jaime and Elka Brand. He also adopted Brand’s son, Isaiah.
Bandmate Mike Shinoda left this on Twitter.
Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.
— Mike Shinoda (@mikeshinoda) July 20, 2017