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Celebrating the Life of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington

Travis Ketzak
By Travis Ketzak / July 21, 2017
Chester Pennington

Editors Note:  Many news outlets have been reporting the unfortunate demise of Chester Bennington.  We decided it would be more fitting to write a piece celebrating his life and all of the amazing things that he did while on this earth.  Rest In Peace, Mr. Bennington.

The music industry lost one of its greatest treasures yesterday. Chester Bennington, lead singer of rock band Linkin Park, tragically lost his life to suicide. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and bandmates.

The singer is best known for his smooth, high-pitched, and sometimes raspy vocals. He’s one of rock and roll’s most iconic voices, and he’s also been a very charitable celebrity. He’s an environmentalist, an advocate for substance abuse victims, an animal lover, and a devoted and loving father of six. His life has certainly been a journey.

“I always wanted to be a rock star. That was my childhood dream. That’s what I told everybody I was going to be when I grew up.”

Chester developed a passion for music at a very young age, and even dreamed of one day joining his biggest inspiration, Stone Temple Pilots. Little did he know that fronting that band would only be one of his many dreams to come true.

After singing for a few different grunge bands in Phoenix, Arizona, his hometown, he began struggling to find work. He was almost ready to quit music altogether when he caught the break that would change his (and our) life forever.

The vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles offered him an audition to sing for Linkin Park (who at the time were called Xero). Chester dropped everything, packed up, and moved his family from Arizona to the West Coast.

Unsurprisingly, he nailed his audition, and soon after Linkin Park was signing a record deal with Warner Bros. Records and releasing their first album, Hybrid Theory. He had finally made it, but he wasn’t done there.

“You’re constantly trying to prove yourself, even after you’ve made it.”

After a few years with Linkin Park, he co-founded the band Dead by Sunrise, and in 2013, he even got to replace Scott Weiland as the frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, achieving a childhood dream of his. He sang with them for two years before returning to Linkin Park.

Chester wasn’t only known for his music, though. He was also very involved in charities. He was a solid supporter of organizations like the GRAMMY Foundation, MusiCares, and PETA. He and Linkin Park even founded Music for Relief.

“We’re shooting for the title of hardest-working band in America.”

Music for Relief is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving aid to natural disaster survivors and protecting the environment. Thanks to musicians, music industry professionals, and fans all over the world, MFR has been able to raise over $9 million for survivors of many different disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Their benefit events have included concerts, festivals, auctions, and collaborations with other award-winning artists.

Responding to disasters is only half of their battle, though. They are also fighting to keep these disasters from occurring. They have planted 1.3 million trees over the past 12 years, to combat climate change.

“We caused climate change, we can fix it,” Chester said in a Project Earth video. “We have the tools to mobilize opinions, mobilize our objectives and agendas to mass audiences and get people’s voices heard. We actually have the power to make change.”

He had a vision, a passion, and a drive to change the world. Most importantly, he succeeded.

“When life leaves us blind, love keeps us kind.”

Linkin Park did a lot of work after Hurricane Katrina. They took a break from their Minutes to Midnight tour and worked alongside Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild homes for those affected by the disaster. Chester, along with the rest of the band, worked tirelessly for days building homes with their bare hands.

“It’s cool to be a part of recovery. This is just who I am, this is what I write about, what I do, and most of my work has been a reflection of what I’ve been going through in one way or another.”

In addition to his work to save the environment, he’s also worked to save the lives of addicts. MusiCares gives musicians a place to turn to in times of crisis. They provide financial assistance, addiction recovery, and community outreach.

Chester has been a strong supporter of the foundation, having struggled with addiction himself. In 2013, he was honored at the MAP Fund benefit concert, and given the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his everlasting commitment to helping addicts in the recovery process.

“MusiCares MAP Fund is an amazing program that takes care of their own, and actually saves lives. It’s been so rewarding to support them and see firsthand what they’ve accomplished for so many artists,” he said in his acceptance speech.

“We need to show respect for all creatures of this world.”

Chester Bennington worked just as hard with charities as he did with Linkin Park. In addition to Music for Relief and the MusiCares MAP Fund, he was also very involved in PETA. He ran the “Ink, not Mink” campaign, advocating for animal rights. He boycotted fur, advocated for animal shelter adoptions over pet stores, and encouraged his fans to spay and neuter their dogs and cats. He even conducted a photo shoot, showing off his elaborate tattoos, saying “be comfortable in your own skin, and let animals keep theirs.”

“The fans are the biggest reason we do what we do.”

Like many artists, Chester is very passionate about his fans. When the band went to New Orleans to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, they brought along two fans with them. They held a “What I’ve Done” sweepstakes to determine the winners.

Chester loved his fans. When fans approached him, he didn’t run or shoo them away. He didn’t hide behind his security guards, or act aggressively towards them. He would talk to them, take pictures with them, and just be a good person. He considered all of his fans to be his friends.

“We like playing smaller venues, but we know how many people want to come and see us so we don’t ever want to stop anyone who wants to come to a show from coming,” he once said.

“But in the end…”

Chester Bennington had two great passions; music and helping people. He wrote some of the most hauntingly beautiful music ever, drawing inspiration from his own life’s experiences. What’s more, he spent his life helping people, animals, and the environment. The world will be a much different place without him.

“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 heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that,” he said, reacting to the death of his good friend Chris Cornell, lead singer for Soundgarden.

The very same can now he said about him. His music and charitable work have touched us all in ways that will never be matched. He may be gone, but his legacy will never be.

R.I.P. Chester Bennington. Thank you for all that you did.