Thank You Chester Bennington And Linkin Park For Daring Us To Be Different
Chester Bennington’s death hit me hard and I felt a deep sense of sadness having listened to and loved Linkin Park for as long as I can remember. Many out there will be feeling the same.
Being a huge fan, the tragic news got me thinking about how much of an impact the band had on me personally. But it was only after scrolling through social media did I realise how much of an impact Chester Bennington and Linkin Park had on so many others.
Linkin Park were present in some key moments of my life – throughout school, university and into adulthood – and the importance of that only really hit me last night.
Back in 2000, it was my first year of secondary school and I’d started listening to a wider variety of music – it was also the same year Linkin Park brought out Hybrid Theory.
Listening to it for the first time, I instantly fell in love. It still remains one of my favourite albums now, 17 years on. The fusion of rock, hip-hop, electronica and pop was something none of us had ever heard done so well before.
And apparently I wasn’t the only one to think that. Linkin Park seemed to be one of those bands that everybody liked in school, whether you listened predominantly to rock music or not.
A couple of years later and I’d really bonded with a group of friends over music and we’d go to gigs together and sit and listen to music in the park. No prizes for guessing who we always listened to…
By that point, Linkin Park had released Meteora too and it was a regular feature on our playlists.
While scrolling through social media, it hit home that there’ll be so many other people feeling the exact same sense of nostalgia. I’ve read posts from people praising the band for getting them into metal and people crediting them as the reason they started playing music in the first place.
In 2004, Linkin Park collaborated with Jay-Z to bring out the Collision Course album. Six of the band’s tracks mashed up with six of Jay-Z’s. Somehow, it worked.
On New Year’s Eve that year, aged 16 and too young to go out into town, my friends and I had a house party. The host was in the middle of moving and the only music we had was the Collision Course CD – so for the entire night, we had those six tracks on repeat and no one complained.
I remember hearing this album all over the radio, music TV channels and around school at the time. What’s incredible is that it wasn’t a gimmick to sell some music. Collision Course has not only stood the test of time, it opened a pathway for artists to dare to be different.
Fast-forward to 2006, I left Derby to start university in Manchester and I, like so many others, knew absolutely nobody. Being in a small halls, it was difficult, it was essentially 100 or so people forced together just because they were at the same uni, and for many of us, that was the only common ground there was.
But, it was through the love of music (I had plastered my door with posters of bands) that I met Alex. She and I got talking because she’d seen a huge Linkin Park poster on my door and from there our friendship grew. We went out to places like Jilly’s Rockworld, Satan’s Hollow, Fifth Av and 42s in Manchester and that was a turning point for me.
Still now, almost ten years after seeing them in 2008, one of the best gigs I ever went to featured Linkin Park in the line-up.
It was a sunny day that year when I travelled from Derby down to the MK Bowl in Milton Keynes for Projekt Revolution with my sister, Emily. Linkin Park headlined with performances from The Bravery, InnerPartySystem, Pendulum, Enter Shikari, N.E.R.D. and Jay-Z.
Linkin Park were the kind of band people would travel days and spend hundreds to go and see live and that was in no small part down to Chester Bennington’s supreme talent.
The energy on stage, as well as in the crowd, was one of the best I’ve experienced and not only did Linkin Park play a full set on their own, they were joined on stage by Jay-Z at the end of the night to perform the Collision Course album in its entirety – not many bands would do that purely for the love of their fans.
Chester’s voice was every bit as incredible, if not better, live. It carried so well, much more than most singers I’ve heard, and his unique sound was one of the reasons he fit in so well with Linkin Park.
Since then, the band have always had a place in my playlists and I’ve continued to listen to them in the car more times than I care to imagine. In fact, Hybrid Theory was the first album I bought after I passed my driving test, just so I could listen to them everywhere I went.
Chester was a good guy and often spoke about mental health issues during concerts and it’s sad that he has lost his battle with something he fought so hard against for so long.
His death may mark the end of an era, but Chester’s legacy will live on through his incredible catalogue of music that brought people together and got people through hard times.
And that is more than most people will ever have the opportunity to do, let alone achieve – and that is what I realised yesterday.
Rest in peace, Chester. You’ll be missed, but never forgotten.
If any of these issues have affected you, please don’t suffer in silence. Call Samaritans on their free 24-hour hotline on 116 123.