This tribute was written by Rock/alternative Nigeria artiste, Richee rawk from Richeetech
Sometime in the month of July last year, the world shook with the breaking of news that Linkin Park lead vocalist, Chester Bennington had died, aged 41 from an apparent suicide.
I had been serving my country haven been deployed by NYSC to Plateau state when the news broke and I was devastated. I had just recently download two songs off their latest album.
While the rest of the living mourn the passing of an idol with tributes and songs, we thought to share a little story with our Linkin Park fans in nigeria who still don’t know the circumstances that led to Chester joining Linkin Park.
I will still do a tribute song cover but consider this my written tribute for the meantime to a Legend who shaped my personality for the past 7 years…
Following the exit of Mark Wakefield in 1998, Linkin Park’s first ever lead vocalist, the Agoura Hills, California band (known as “Xero” back then) sort frantically for a replacement.
Back then, the Chester Bennington we know now was formerly a part of post-grunge rock band, Grey Daze as well as working at a “dead-end job” as an assistant. I happend to stumble across an old live performance of his older band on YouTube and it made me reminisce.
Now Grey Daze was mildly popular, but nothing compared to what LP would later become.
At this stage of Chester’s life, unknown (and disbelieved) by many, he’d been heavily addicted to experimenting with hard drugs like Meth, LSD, Opium with a great dose of alcohol due to serious rifts within his family at that time (his parents got divorced and he had felt rather neglected by his mother).
Talk about how one’s life can change in dramatical proportions from just one phone call. The Americans may call it “luck”, but we over here call it “divine intervention of God”.
By the time Chester was about 23, a call out of the blue came from a guy named Jeff Blue, the VP of A&R at Zomba music. He’d wanted to let him in on the fact that the band (then Xero) we’re in the market for a new lead.
Bennington listened to their song, loved it and recorded over it the very next day.
The selection process had been grueling but his unique vocals, especially his uncanny ability to effortlessly switch between his raspy screams to a soft and clear melodic voice, saw him crush his other contenders.
Funny enough, most people don’t know that the band didn’t immediately switch to the name “Linkin Park”. They first switched from “Xero” to be called “Hybrid Theory” (the name of their first Album). Afterwards, they decided to adapt their name off a Santa Monica park called “Lincoln Park”, shortenening it to “Linkin Park”.
The band, even with Chester now a member still struggled to land a record deal, getting turned down repeatedly by several labels.
The perks of having a top man on the inside came in handy for the band when Jeff Blue (the guy who had recommended Bennington to Linkin Park) secured the position of a Vice President at Warner Bros. Records and with this new found position, signed the band in 1999.
Linkin Park with the help of Bennington have since then gone on to sell over 70 million records, become the first rock band to hit over 1 billion views on YouTube, released 7 studio albums (minus remix albums) among other world record breaking milestones.