Today marks one year to the unfortunate and untimely passing of one of the most if not THE most legendary singer/song-writer/performer of all time, one of the co-lead of the band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington.
This is my first post in almost 3 years, and the topic being a tribute to one of my all time favorite artists, I honestly do not know how to begin or what to write for this post, but I just know that there are a lot of thoughts and emotions on my chest to offload. I started writing this post as a tribute to the band, but for some reason couldn’t get a flow. So now, here I am writing whatever comes to my mind.
Last year on 20th July, I remember reading the notification from YouTube on my phone right before going to sleep which said “Watch Linkin Park’s new music video Talking to Myself”. I kept the notification on as a reminder, so I can watch the video on my way to work the next day. I wake up on 21st July at 6 a.m., scroll to see the headlines on my phone, only to see Chester’s photo on all of them, which first got me excited thinking it was related to some major announcement and within the very next second I sank right in with this HEAVY weight building on my chest and my limbs start shivering with shock on reading the text written next to Chester’s picture on all of those articles stating “Chester Bennington – Lead singer of Linkin Park found dead”. At first I just couldn’t accept it! I thought and hoped that it was a prank while trying to scroll trough the headlines, desperately looking for that one article alerting about the fake news. And the next minute I started wishing all that to be a really bad nightmare. I still am…
Linkin Park has been a constant in my life ever since 2003 when I was first introduced to their music. I don’t remember a single day when I have not played a song, no matter which artist, and my last.fm profile is the proof that at least since the day I created my last.fm account, Linkin Park has been one of the top three artists I listen to on a regular basis.
From the moment I read about Chester’s passing, I could not pick myself listen to a song on any platform (phone/ipod/YouTube/Radio). Any song of any language being played even far away brought me to tears (might not make sense for many but was true in my case). After about a month, I just had to listen to songs. I wanted to listen to Chester’s voice. Couldn’t do it for about another week. So I decided to go back to the closest link to Linkin Park, Fort Minor. After a few days of listening to Fort Minor, I gradually started to move into Link Park songs that just had Mike rapping/singing on them. That was difficult! Another couple of days of doing that, I pushed myself to the (now) most toughest songs to listen to from the band, One More Light. Broke down again, but built the strength to be able to listen to other songs, and once I could listen to Linkin Park, I couldn’t make myself listen to anything but Linkin Park. Since August last year, till this day I have tried playing 3-4 other artists besides Linkin Park, one of which would have been a new artist for me only because Chester mentioned the band to be one of his all time favorites, Depeche Mode. The others included Dead by Sunrise, Eminem and BSB. But then I just couldn’t do it for a long time. I tried listen to other artists for a day or two but then ended up going back listening to just Linkin Park ONLY, until Mike Shinoda came along with his debut solo songs followed by the stupendous album – Post Traumatic (which helped in more ways than I could have ever imagined and can ever express). This was my journey tackling Chester’s passing over the past 1 year.
If one were to watch all the LPTV videos of the band in the process of making the songs, music videos, the pre-show rituals, the meet and greets with fans, he/she would realize how down to earth kind of a person Chester was. He seemed like a guy who knew how famous he was but always thought as if he didn’t deserve it and that he was lucky to be having the kind of fan following he and the band has, even though it is clear as sunny day as to how much each member of the band had gone through and the effort that was put in to get where they have. He was the guy who cheered everyone up, cracked jokes and did all the crazy funny things even during the moments where the band were exhausted or under a lot of pressure. He was the guy with the most excitement and energy entering and exiting the stage. He appreciated and acknowledged the love and support from the fans to such an extent that, even after breaking his ankle a few hours before a live concert, Chester denied all the suggestions to cancel the event and went on stage to perform the full 2 hours set while holding crutches under both his arms, and all of this in an era where the so-called “super stars” cancel a show just because of “fatigue” and being too exhausted to perform at their own show. Even after being one of the main reasons for the band’s unprecedented success, he never took all the fame to his head. In fact even before the band’s debut breakout successful album “Hybrid Theory”, even before the band was named Linkin Park, Chester was suggested by one of the managers to drop the founder and co-lead Mike Shinoda out of the band, so Chester can be the solo star of the band, to which Chester responded with a “Get the fuck off of here dude!”.
It was a known fact that Chester had his demons inside of him since even before he was auditioned for Linkin Park. It was the premise for many of the songs written by Mike for Chester, for example Breaking the Habit. He used to keep himself occupied with activities and commitments way more than any common person can handle, just to run away from these demons he hid inside of him. And by 2016 and early 2017, Chester was able to beyond of the darkness and even claimed during an interview that the year had been the best year for him in a long time. But the same year, just after a couple of months, Chester Bennington took his own life and died from Suicide. No one ever saw it coming. There were no indications that his family and friends could take notice of. It was almost as if even Chester himself never saw it coming since he had his schedule not just for days, but for the following months already booked! In fact he was scheduled to be at a photo shoot for their album “One More Light” on the same day. There have been pictures and videos from just hours before the incident shared by Talinda, Chester’s wife, watching which even today, no one could even imagine that the same person would end up taking his own life. Since then, there have been speculations stating that his action could have been triggered due to the sudden passing of one of his closest friends, Chris Cornell which was also due to suicide.
Today, even after a year to the unfortunate day, we have no understanding of what was going through Chester’s mind or what made him take the ultimate step. All we know is, such actions taken by individuals (not just celebrities) at that very moment, becomes an ordeal of enormous proportions not just for the family and friends of the person, but also for people and lives beyond family and friends. In Chester’s scenario, not only his wife and children were affected by the sudden decision Chester took at that unfortunate moment, not just his band mates and friends, but also the millions and millions of LP Soldiers and die-hard fans of the band from around the world (even from the places where the band has never even performed live even once). Music being music, spreads faster than wild-fire in a forest. And add a mix of meaningful relatable lyrics with 6 talented artists backing the lyrics up with unmatchable vocals, beats, guitars, keyboards and riffs, makes it faster than light!
Suicidal thoughts and depression are some of the most serious and sadly at the same time ignored facts of the modern world. To borrow words from Mike Shinoda, mental health is just like physical health. One day, you feel slightly unwell and you might want to rest for while to feel better. The next day it might get better, but if it doesn’t then you would take some known or prescribed medication to see if that helps. Next day, if it gets better with the medication then good, but if it doesn’t then you would want to go and see a doctor. Mental health must be treated the exact same way. One day you might feel low due to some reason. Try and relax and talk to someone about it. The next day if it doesn’t feel better, you should try to meet a doctor and discuss about the same and take medication as prescribed to feel better. The more one keeps mental and/physical health issues to oneself hoping for it to get better with time, the worse things get. It is always better to discuss any such matter with family, friends or close folks or see a doctor to help you feel better. There is nothing in this world big/worthy enough to give the only and at the same time short life that we have.
With all this being said, the fact remains that Chester Bennington forever will be missed and remembered. He, along with Linkin Park have been able to impart positivity across the world for so many years. Their music has helped millions of people around the world come out of their misery. We have been fortunate to be alive at a time when Linkin Park have been making and performing amazing music. I personally never got the opportunity to attend any of their live shows, but I am still more than eager and optimistic for the band to reunite and continue their journey, which would definitely be a difficult one to restart. But one thing is certain… the LP Soldiers would be waiting with our arms wide open and supporting the band at each step moving forward!
Rest in Peace Chester…
Loads of strength and support to Mike, Brad, Joe, Dave, Rob and the Bennington family.
In case you or someone you know needs support, here are some resources:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK