I’ve gotta be honest, the news of Chester Bennington’s suicide hit me pretty hard.
Most likely because Linkin Park was the first real band I fell in love with. Most people know me as a metalhead or perhaps a NIN-head, since those were the first genres of music I really identified with. But Linkin Park was the first music I really loved.
I remember picking up a copy of Meteora when my parents took us to to the Heidelberg military base in Germany. I listened to that album non-stop on the three-hour ride from Heidelberg back to our home in Switzerland. I can’t tell you why my 12-year-old self fell in love with the music because I honestly can’t remember. If I had to guess, it’s because it reminded me of The Matrix – my favorite movie at the time.
Over time, I moved on to other genres of music. But I never lost my love of the Linkin Park sound. It really defined my childhood and teenage years. They had the most popular songs on the radio that weren’t pop. They were a gateway drug in to hard rock, metal, rap, hip-hop, and electronic. I never would have discovered Deadmau5, Opeth, SlipKnot, NIN, Pendulum, KoRn, Muse, or System of a Down if not for the influence of Linkin Park’s sound.
But apart from that, Linkin Park, and Chester in particular, always filled me with such emotion. “Somewhere I Belong” was the first song that made me realize how much I wasn’t like other people. “One Step Closer” was the first song I felt gave a voice to my anger. “Crawling” made me question the things inside of me that I couldn’t quite explain with words. “Waiting for the End” is what I listened to during each of the hundreds of times I’ve moved from one city to another. “Leave out All The Rest” made me consider my own mortality.
Chester struggled with childhood abuse, drugs, and mental health for most of his life, and yet he found a way to transform his pain into lyrics that were relatable, universal, and gave all of us struggling in our own lives a reason to keep going, if only for the fact that we felt like someone else felt the same way we did.
We’ll miss you Chester. And hopefully, wherever you are, it’s a life less painful than the life you lived on this earth.