It’s impossible to process my feelings today. As many of you have already heard, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame took his life early this morning (NZ time). An incredible talent, his rasping vocals were a stark contrast to his softer tones, and he could hit high notes fantastically. Linkin Park was the first band I truly got immersed in. I would download on Limewire whole albums at a time (and, of course, none of them would be Linkin Park songs). Tribal Ink, Trapt, Ill Nino… They were just some of the bands I was tricked into believing were Linkin Park. But I always knew they weren’t, that it didn’t sound like Chester singing “headstrong will take on anyone”.
Indeed, no one sounds like Chester.
Whenever I go travelling I meet a lot of people, and there are always three topics I try to steer conversation towards. Travel (obviosuly), but also Association Football and music. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been drunk, arm in arm with a backpacker, singing ‘In The End’ like my life depended on it. Even people who weren’t necessarily into the rock scene would play ‘Numb/Encore’ on their phone, or ‘What I’ve Done’ and ‘Shadow of the Day’. Their popularity is a testimony in itself to Chester. No matter what part of the world you come from, you’ve heard of Linkin Park. I’ve grown so many friendships just out of mutual love.
In July 2015, me and my friends drove down to Christchurch, through Arthur’s Pass, and up through the West Coast. One of the CDs I had packed was Linkin Park’s ‘Minutes to Midnight’ album. I’ll never forget the three of us trying to wrap along to ‘Bleed it Out’, Dave singing off-key to Chester’s parts, as we drove through yet another layer of forest. I won’t forget having a Linkin Park-off with a backpacker in Auckland in early 2016, where we each sung four lines of a different LP song until one of us ran out of songs. When ‘Living Things’ dropped I was living near Cairns, and I played an entire album on the stereo system for my flatmates to revel in, to which we came to the same conclusion: ‘Castle of Glass’ is catchy as fuck.
When I was 15, I attempted suicide.
Like Chester, I tried hanging myself. But luckily, I failed. I blacked out and when I came to, I discovered that I was on the floor. To calm myself down, I popped on some Linkin Park and sang as much as I could with a bruised throat. It was an incredibly cathartic experience for me. They were during to release a new album soon (‘A Thousand Suns’), and I wanted to be alive to hear it. It’s shocked that the singer who arguably saved me from myself, couldn’t save himself.
The sun will set for you, Chester Bennington.
If you’re struggling, talk to someone:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis text line: Text “START” to 741741
Samaritans: 116 123, or e-mail email@example.com
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543354, or their Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828865