Where to begin? Well I guess it’s only natural to start with the band and their roots in music. According to Wikipedia, Linkin Park was originally founded by three high school friends: Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson. under the name “Xero”. Chester Bennington wasn’t added until later on,
originally hailing from Arizona, this former lead singer of a post-grunge band called “Grey Daze”, would go on to join the band in late 1999. With this new duo of almost polar opposite vocalist, the band changed their name from “Xero” to
“Hybrid Theory” (which would later go on to be the title of their breakout album). They’d release a self-titled EP (Hybrid Theory) and would eventually go on to change their name once again to what we now know them as, “Linkin Park”, which is a variation on the actual Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, California.
It was then, the band focused on their explosive album (their best in my opinion) and the final version of Hybrid Theory, a chaotic blend of guitar power chords over DJ Hahn cuts, with two unique vocalists whose styles would meld an everlasting impression on me all through my high school years. The devastating combo of Mike’s rhythmic flow, and hard hitting in your face lyrics, blended melodically with Chester’s beautiful range of angry roars that we now know could almost
be viewed as a cry for help. I still remember the day I bought their CD for $8 at “The Wall” music store in Greenbrier Mall located in Chesapeake, Virginia, and the feeling of anticipation of getting to play it when I got home, as my father didn’t have a CD player in his truck.
I’ll cherish the long nights of playing this album and singing it with my cousin, and arguing over who gets to be Chester/Mike for each song, or that one time we sang “One Step Closer” at a Karaoke bar in a Richmond Hotel, before getting kicked out for being underage, we were only 15 at the time. I’ll never forget the countless days of coming home from school, putting this album on heavy rotation, while throwing darts in my room, or pretending I was Chester himself, belting out those bone chilling, goosebump giving lyrics that impacted my heart and soul, maybe those tears I sometimes cried while singing weren’t mine, but his all along. As I’m listening to the album while writing this, I get a warmth of a better time, when the biggest worry in my life was, would Stephanie say “Yes” if I asked her to a high school dance. I mean how could she say no, I had beautiful bleached blonde hair at the time.
She divisively said “NO!” Back to this album I went to deal with the frustrations of having to grow up and the angst of a teen who’s been rejected by his High School crush, at least my crush for that semester. I’d go on to live my life up until this point, a point where Linkin Park was almost an after thought to me, until I was rattled with the news today that Chester Bennington had hung himself, letting his demons finally get to him, but in a twisted way rekindling my love for an album that once was a big part of my life. It’s unfortunate however that it happened under these terms, but I guess life works in mysterious ways.
Unfortunately over the years the band has been viewed in society with a, “Nickelback” like quality, and if I’m being truly honest, I viewed them in this same light, as I stopped following their music career after the Meteora album. I’m not sure what came over me to write about this incident, or why I feel so upset over someone taking their life that I honestly hadn’t thought of in a long time, but “There’s only one thing you should know. I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.” Rest in Peace Chester Bennington, 1976-2017.