Singer struggled with drugs, booze

Chester Bennington performing with Linkin Park at the Rock in Rio USA music festival in Las Vegas in 2015.
Chester Bennington performing with Linkin Park at the Rock in Rio USA music festival in Las Vegas in 2015.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, who is suspected of having committed suicide, spoke openly about his issues with drug and alcohol addiction

NEW YORK• Chester Bennington, the ferocious lead singer for the platinum-selling hard-rock band Linkin Park, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 41.

Law enforcement called the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner shortly after 9am, reporting an apparent suicide. Celebrity website TMZ, citing law enforcement sources, said Bennington had hung himself. The investigation into the death is ongoing.

Bennington, who was known for his piercing scream and freeflowing anguish, released seven albums with Linkin Park.

The news of his death, first reported by TMZ, came just hours after Linkin Park released a music video for Talking To Myself, off the band's most recent album, One More Light, which debuted in May at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. The band were scheduled to start a tour with a concert next Thursday in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Mike Shinoda, one of the group's founders, spoke on their behalf in a tweet. "Shocked and heartbroken," he wrote.

Bennington was also a member of Stone Temple Pilots from 2013 to 2015, when he left to spend more time with his family and "focus solely on Linkin Park".

He was friends with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who died in May in what the authorities ruled as a suicide. The two toured together.

In May, Bennington sang Hallelujah at the funeral of Cornell, who would have turned 53 on Thursday.

Bennington had been open about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, which had fuelled many of his biggest hits with Linkin Park.

"I have been able to tap into all the negative things that can happen to me throughout my life by numbing myself to the pain, so to speak, and kind of being able to vent it through my music," he said in a 2009 interview with the website Noisecreep.

"I don't have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That's who I am and I'm kind of lucky in a lot of ways cause I get to do something about it."

He said that Crawling - one of the band's defining singles from its debut album, Hybrid Theory, which sold more than 11 million copies in the United States - was "about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol".

"That feeling," he added, "being able to write about it, sing about it, that song, those words sold millions of records, I won a Grammy, I made a lot of money."

He told Rock Sound: "If it wasn't for music, I'd be dead. One hundred per cent."

Chester Charles Bennington was born on March 20, 1976, in Phoenix, Arizona, the youngest of four children. His mother was a nurse and his father a police detective.

He described his childhood as unhappy, citing his parents' divorce when he was 11 and frequent molestation by an older friend.

"It destroyed my self-confidence," he told Kerrang! magazine in 2008. "Like most people, I was too afraid to say anything. I didn't want people to think I was gay or that I was lying. It was a horrible experience."

He found solace in writing angst- filled poetry, drawing and eventually in music; he cited Stone Temple Pilots and Depeche Mode as two of his earliest influences.

As a teenager, he started his first band, Grey Daze.

At 23, he was working in an unfulfilling job when a music-industry acquaintance sent him a demo by the band Xero, featuring Shinoda, a California rapper and songwriter interested in mixing hip-hop and rock sounds.

Shinoda auditioned vocalists and gave the job to Bennington. Together, they became Linkin Park.

Bennington married Talinda Bentley, a school teacher and former model, in 2006.

In a Wired article the next year, he revealed that he and his wife had been victims of a cyberstalker who gained access to everything, from their Social Security numbers to their social plans. The experience was deeply unsettling, leading the singer, who was famously open and available to his fans, to withdraw. The stalker, Devon Townsend, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2008.

Bennington is survived by his wife and six children.

He was optimistic in interviews during the lead-up to the new Linkin Park album.

"Where I'm at right now in 2017 is as far on the opposite side of the scale to where I was at this time in 2015," he told Rock Sound.

"I literally hated life and I was like, 'I don't want to have feelings.' And now I'm like, 'Bring it on!'"


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Singer struggled with drugs, booze '. Print Edition | Subscribe