Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976- July 20, 2017) was an American musician, singer, songwriter and actor. He was best known as the lead vocalist of rock bands Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise, and live rock cover band Bucket of Weenies. He was originally the lead vocalist for Sean Dowdell And His Friends? and Grey Daze. From 2013 to 2015, Bennington was also the lead vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots.
Bennington became known as a vocalist with Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000, which was a massive commercial success. The album was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005, making it the best-selling debut album of the decade, as well as one of the few albums to ever hit that many sales. Linkin Park's following studio albums, Meteora, Minutes to Midnight, A Thousand Suns, Living Things, and The Hunting Party, released in 2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2014 respectively, continued the band's success. Bennington formed his own band, Dead by Sunrise as a side project in 2005. The band's debut album, Out of Ashes was released on October 13, 2009. He worked on new material with Stone Temple Pilots in 2013 to release the EP High Rise on October 8, 2013 via their own record label, Play Pen. Bennington has been ranked in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader (No. 46).
Bennington was born in Phoenix, Arizona. His mother was a nurse, while his father was a police detective who worked with child sex abuse cases and took double shifts. Bennington took interest in music at a young age, citing Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as early inspirations and dreamed of becoming a member of Stone Temple Pilots.
Bennington's parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody of him. As a result of the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD. He eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. During a Linkin Park tour, he started heavily drinking but claimed to have quit in 2011, noting, "I just don't want to be that person anymore."
In an interview, Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until age 13. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. Later, he revealed the abuser's identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.
At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity. He worked at a Burger King and used his money for cocaine and crystal meth before starting his career as a professional musician. He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said, "I was knocked around like a rag doll at school for being skinny and looking different."
Early acts and Grey Daze
Bennington first began singing with a band called Sean Dowdell and His Friends?. They released an eponymous three-track cassette in 1993. Later, Sean Dowdell and Bennington moved on to form a new band, Grey Daze, a post-grunge band from Phoenix, Arizona. The band recorded three albums; Demo in 1993, Wake Me in 1994, and ...no sun today in 1997. Bennington left Grey Daze in 1998, but struggled to find another band.
Bennington was frustrated and almost ready to quit his musical career altogether when Jeff Blue, the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered him an audition with the future members of Linkin Park. Bennington quit his day job at a digital services firm, and took his family to California, where he had a successful audition with Linkin Park, who were then called "Xero". He managed to record the song for his audition in a day, missing his own birthday celebration in the process. Bennington and Mike Shinoda, the band's other vocalist, made significant progress together, but failed to find a record deal. After facing numerous rejections, Jeff Blue, now a vice president of A&R at Warner Bros., intervened again to help the band sign with Warner Bros. Records.
On October 24, 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, through Warner Bros. Records. Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics to Hybrid Theory based on some early material. Shinoda characterized the lyrics as interpretations of universal feelings, emotions, and experiences, and as "everyday emotions you talk about and think about." Bennington later described the songwriting experience to Rolling Stone magazine in early 2002, "It's easy to fall into that thing – 'poor, poor me', that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself. But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down."
Bennington primarily serves as Linkin Park's lead vocalist, but occasionally shares the role with Shinoda. All Music Guide described Bennington's vocals as "higher-pitched" and "emotional", in contrast to Shinoda's hip-hop-style delivery. Both members also work together to write lyrics for the band's songs.
Dead by Sunrise
Dead by Sunrise started to form in 2005 while Chester Bennington was writing songs for Linkin Park's album Minutes to Midnight. On May 10, 2008, Dead by Sunrise performed four songs ("Walking in Circles", "Let Down", "Morning After", and "My Suffering") at the 13th anniversary party for Club Tattoo in Tempe, Arizona. The song titled "Morning After" was written by Chester Bennington and originally performed on September 12, 2001 at the Live in Berlin concert. Bennington also performed Morning After with his cover band entitled Bucket of Weenies in many shows throughout 2005 and 2006. This was the first time that Bennington had "officially" performed the song under a new name—Dead by Sunrise. In addition, this band has recently started touring with Linkin Park in Europe. Videos have been filmed for "Crawl Back In" (September 8, 2009) and "Let Down" with the songs serving as the album's first two singles. "Crawl Back In" has reached the 11th spot on the Mainstream Rock chart. After the release of Out of Ashes on October 13, 2009, the band is currently on hiatus.
Stone Temple Pilots
In February 2013, Stone Temple Pilots parted ways with long-time lead singer Scott Weiland. The band recruited Bennington to replace Weiland in May 2013. On May 18, 2013, Bennington took the stage at KROQ's Weenie Roast with the band. The setlist included original Stone Temple Pilots songs, as well as their first single with Bennington on vocals called "Out of Time", which debuted on May 19, and was available for free download. It was later announced by Chester and the band in an exclusive KROQ interview that he was officially the new frontman of Stone Temple Pilots and discussed the possibility of a new album and tour. On May 19, 2013, the band released a free download of their first single, "Out of Time" that features Bennington via their official website. The song "Out of Time" is featured on their EP High Rise, which was released on October 8, 2013.
Bennington reflected on joining Stone Temple Pilots, stating, "Every band has its own kind of vibe. Stone Temple Pilots has this sexier, more classic rock feel to it. Linkin Park is a very modern, very tech-heavy type of band. I grew up listening to these guys. When this opportunity came up, it was just like a no-brainer." Before this happened, Bennington himself exclaimed years before in interviews that singing lead vocals in Stone Temple Pilots was his lifelong dream. In 2015, he left the band on good terms due to his commitments with Linkin Park.
Bennington married his first wife, Samantha Marie Olit, on October 31, 1996. They had one child together, Draven Sebastian Bennington (born April 19, 2002). Bennington's relationship with his first wife declined during his early years with Linkin Park, and they divorced in 2005.
After divorcing his first wife, Bennington married Talinda Ann Bentley, a former Playboy model, with whom he has three children: Tyler Lee Bennington and twins Lilly and Lila (born 2011). The wedding ceremony was custom designed. They live in Gilbert, Arizona.
Bennington and his wife were harassed by a cyberstalker named Devon Townsend for almost a year. Townsend was found guilty of tampering with the couple's email, as well as sending threatening messages, and was later sentenced to two years in prison.
Bennington is a tattoo enthusiast. He has done work and promotions with Club Tattoo, a tattoo parlor in Tempe, Arizona. Club Tattoo is owned by Sean Dowdell, Bennington's friend since high school. They played together in two bands.
In a January 2011 interview, in response to the 2011 Tucson shooting, Bennington said, "There's a non-violent way to express yourself and get your point across – regardless of what you're saying or what your point is. In a free society, people have a right to believe whatever they want to believe. That's their business and they can speak their mind... but nobody, even in a free society, has the right to take another person's life. Ever. That's something that we really need to move beyond."
Health and injuries
Bennington was plagued with poor health during the making of Meteora, and struggled to attend some of the album's recording sessions. In the summer of 2003, he began to suffer from extreme abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues while filming the music video for "Numb" in Prague. He was forced to return to the United States for surgery, and filmed the remainder of the music video in Los Angeles.
Bennington sustained a wrist injury in October 2007 while attempting to jump off a platform during a show in Melbourne at the Rod Laver Arena. Despite the injury, he continued to perform the entire show with a broken wrist, before heading to the emergency room. He received five stitches.
In 2011, Bennington fell ill again, and Linkin Park was forced to cancel three shows and reschedule two from the A Thousand Suns World Tour. Bennington injured his shoulder during the band's tour in Asia and was advised by doctors to have immediate surgery, cancelling their final show at Pensacola Beach, Florida and ending their tour.
Bennington injured his ankle in January 2015 during a basketball game. He attempted to cope with the injury and perform with the aid of crutches and a knee scooter. Linkin Park later canceled the remainder of their tour to allow Bennington to undergo surgery and recover.
Chester Bennington was a close friend of Chris Cornell, the frontman and vocalist for Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog . Before Cornell committed suicide, Bennington wrote him an open letter on May 18, 2017 (one day after Cornell died):
I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife's face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I'm still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartach all wrapped up into one. I suppose that's what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing ' A day in the life ' by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I'd like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can't imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.
With all of my love.
Bennington joined Z-Trip in 2005 for the debut single "Walking Dead", released on Z-Trip's major label album Shifting Gears. "Walking Dead" was a Top Ten Single in the US. Bennington also made a surprise appearance during Z-Trip's performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2005.
Bennington teamed up with original Orgy guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, who perform together as Julien-K, for a solo project. Chester's band is called Dead by Sunrise, formerly known as Snow White Tan. Dead by Sunrise has since released their debut studio album Out of Ashes on October 13, 2009. Chester also worked on Julien-K's debut album Death to Analog and is credited as executive producer. In 2009, Ryan Shuck said, "Both bands are the same. The one where Chester sings and writes is Dead by Sunrise, but when I sing, and Amir and I are the primary writers, it becomes Julien-K and it's more electro and much darker... Julien-K and Dead by Sunrise are basically a creative collective, we're sort of a Warhol-style factory in that sense... Dead by Sunrise is Chester's Julien-K if that makes any sense."
|2001||Stone Temple Pilots featuring Chester Bennington||"Wonderful (Live)"||The Family Values 2001 Tour|
|2002||Chester Bennington||"System"||Queen of the Damned soundtrack|
|Cyclefly featuring Chester Bennington||"Karma Killer"||Crave|
|DJ Lethal featuring Chester Bennington||"State of the Art"||N/A|
|2004||Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring DJ Q-bert, Grand Wizard Theodore, Jazzy Jay, Lord Finesse, Mike Shinoda, Rahzel & Chester Bennington / Tim Meadows||"Rock N' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) (Part 2) / Knockers"||White People|
|2005||Z-Trip featuring Chester Bennington||"Walking Dead"||Shifting Gears|
|Mötley Crüe featuring Chester Bennington||"Home Sweet Home" (remake)||N/A|
|2006||Chester Bennington||"Morning After (Julien-K Remix)"||Underworld: Evolution (soundtrack)|
|Mindless Self Indulgence||"What Do They Know? (Mindless Self Indulgence Vs. Julien-K & Chester Bennington Remix)"||Another Mindless Rip Off|
|2007||Young Buck featuring Chester Bennington||"Slow Ya Roll"||Buck the World|
|2008/2010||Chris Cornell featuring Chester Bennington||"Hunger Strike (Live at Projekt Revolution 2008)"||Songs from the Underground|
|2010||Santana featuring Chester Bennington & Ray Manzarek||"Riders on the Storm" (The Doors cover)||Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time|
Chester Bennington executive produced the E.P for Los Angeles, Tripduster band Hellflower, which is fronted by his long-time friend and Director of Activities (D.O.A), Church.
Bennington also made a cameo in the 2006 film Crank as a customer in a pharmacy. He later appeared as a horse-track spectator in the film's 2009 sequel, Crank: High Voltage. Bennington also had a role as the ill-fated racist Evan, in the 2010 film Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.
Chester Bennington is working with his long-time friend and director of activities, Church, on developing an upcoming television show, Mayor of the World, with executive producer Trip Taylor.
|2009||Crank: High Voltage||Hollywood Park Guy|||