Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington dies; coroner suspects suicide
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LOS ANGELES — Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, who sold millions of albums with an ever-changing mix of hard rock, hip-hop and rap, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles on Thursday, the Los Angeles County coroner said Thursday. He was 41.
Coroner spokesman Brian Elias said authorities are investigating Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide at Palos Verdes Estates, a small coastal city near Los Angeles, but no additional details are available.
Band co-founder and producer Mike Shinoda said on Twitter he was “shocked and saddened.”
“Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma, and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family, his band-mates and his many friends,” Warner Bros. CEO and Chairman Cameron Stang said in a statement.
The Grammy Award-winning group sold 10 million copies of its 2000 debut, “Hybrid Theory,” and then another 4 million with 2003’s multiplatinum “Meteora.” Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury.
Bennington’s voice could soar with piercing strength or descend to a whisper. Rolling Stone once called it a “shrapnel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from someone twice his size.”
The band also sold millions with its remix album, “Reanimation,” and its mash-up record with Jay-Z, “Collision Course.” They won Grammys for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling” and best rap/sung collaboration for “Numb/Encore” in 2005. Linkin Park was on tour and was scheduled to play the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater on Aug. 14.
Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life. He said he had been sexually abused as a child and was homeless for months before the band found fame.
Linkin Park released its most recent album, “One More Light,” in May. It was a CD that divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of moody pop. One song on the album, “Heavy,” opens with the words: “I don’t like my mind right now.”
Although the band had always experimented with different sounds, some claimed Linkin Park had sold out, which Bennington denied. “One More Light” became the band’s fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200.
“If you like the music, fantastic. If you don’t like it, that’s your opinion too. Fantastic. If you’re saying we’re doing what we’re doing for a commercial or monetary reason, trying to make success out of some formula. then stab yourself in the face!” he told NME magazine.
Bennington was close friends with Chris Cornell, who died by hanging earlier this year, and performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Soundgarden singer’s memorial in late May. “I had the great privilege of being a friend of Chris and being invited to be a member of his family,” he said at the ceremony. Thursday is Cornell’s birthday.
Bennington and the rest of Linkin Park also appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” performing “One More Light,” in tribute to Cornell.
Bennington wrote an open letter on Twitter to Cornell upon learning of his friend’s passing:
— Chester Bennington (@ChesterBe) May 18, 2017
When he got his big break in 1999, Bennington was an assistant at a digital-services firm in Phoenix. A music executive sent him a demo from the band Xero, who needed a lead singer. (He had been recommended by his attorney.) Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the band’s playing and sent the results back. He soon got the gig and the band then changed its named to Hybrid Theory, then Linkin Park.
Bennington told The Associated Press in 2010 that because of the sound the band is known for — fusing sounds from nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop — it was virtually impossible to satisfy Linkin Park’s many kinds of fans.
“We’re making music for us, that we like. We’re not making music for other people,” he said. “We’re not thinking, ‘Let’s make a pie-graph of all our fans and find out how many people fit in whatever category and then make the perfect album for them.’ Like, that would be absolutely ridiculous.”
Bennington was married to his second wife, Talinda, and is survived by six children.
Anthony McCartney and Mark Kennedy, Associated Press; Contributing: Sun-Time staff reporter Miriam Di Nunzio