Chester Bennington. 1976 – 2017.
A husband, a father, and an incredible vocalist – easily one of the best in the world today, and the lead singer of my favourite band of all time, Linkin Park.
He was the singer of my childhood – be it during the fad period of ‘What I’ve Done’ and ‘New Divide’ – or the experimental period of ‘A Thousand Suns’ and ‘Living Things’.
He was never my favourite. But I cannot imagine Linkin Park without him. Intended to be the replacement for Mark Wakefield, he was instrumental in elevating the garage band Xero to the Linkin Park we know and love today. The songs immortalised were those where his voice was most prominent. I remember watching an acapella version of ‘Numb’: the goose bumps instantly appeared, ‘like the face inside it’s right beneath my skin’, like a good man once sung.
He had the voice of an angel, and the scream of the devil. The ballads that he sang, like ‘Shadow of The Day’ or ‘The Messenger’ made the strongest of us cry. The screams, oh the screams. The legendary 16 seconds scream of ‘Given Up’. ‘Blackout’. They evoked the demons inside us.
The songs he whispered and screamed, were therapeutic. They talk about addiction, depression, anxiety, melancholy, fear and hope for a better world – issues that was personal to Chester, but shared by many. I could not imagine myself going through the tough times without Chester’s voice reminding me not to give up and give in.
He had a funny concert routine, when he would start them wearing full on shirts, hat and sunglasses, only to wear nothing but his jeans by the 2/3 mark of the show. His tattoos were well-known among fans. I wonder what it was like for him in his struggle, rehabilitation and relapse, in his last days suffering on his own while burning it up on stage with the rest of the band, and the audience.
He was world-class not only in vocal but also stamina as a performer after nearly two decades in show business. He shrugged off injuries and came back stronger during concerts. And when critics doubted whether he could still scream like the old days, he delivered in packed arenas.
My favourite memory of him? Was it when he led the crowd in the sing-along during ‘Bleed It Out’? Or when he immersed himself among fans, singing ‘Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal?’ It is hard to decide.
I hope whatever wounds you had, they are now healed. Rest in peace, Chaz.
About the Author
Bach is a second year Arts and Social Science student who is intending to major in Political Science. He likes to explore about politics, religions, and sports, aspiring to be the next John Oliver. He is currently in love with the musical Hamilton and spicy Indomee.