Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the Los Angeles hard rock band Linkin Park, led the band to become one of the biggest acts of the 2000s, its mix of guitars and hip-hop defining the ensuring years in rock.
The act’s debut, “Hybrid Theory,” reportedly sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. The group was signed to Warner Bros., and its beat-driven sound — when paired with heavy guitars and the dual vocals of Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda — was long a force on rock radio.
Bennington died Thursday morning of a suspected suicide in Palos Verdes Estates. He was 41.
His death was confirmed to The Times by the Los Angeles County coroner.
Bennington led the group to mega-stardom with its 2000 debut “Hybrid Theory,” which combined heavy metal and hip-hop with angsty melodic choruses on songs such as “Crawling” and “In the End.”
The followup, “Meteora,” was a worldwide hit as well. The group was a powerhouse in rock music throughout its career, and released a new album, “One More Light,” in May.
Bennington was born in Phoenix and joined the Agoura Hills-based group in the late ’90s.
The group released a 2004 collaborative album with Jay-Z, “Collision Course,” and Bennington would later front Stone Temple Pilots between 2013-15.
In lyrics and interviews, Bennington had always been frank about his struggles with addiction, and had admitted being sexually abused as a youth.
“I think it’s a lot more common than people think. If you look at it, there’s almost two different types of kids these days in this country. There’s kids who are really together and then there’s, like, train wrecks,” Bennington told The Times in 2004.
“I think people don’t get told enough that they have the power to make themselves feel better. So if you can do that as much as possible. … I think that’s a positive thing, and I think we do that with our music. I think that’s why a lot of kids relate to it, whether they’ve got their [stuff] together or whether they’re messes. … I’m both those things myself.”
Warner Bros. Records’ then-Chairman and CEO Tom Whalley told The Times in 2004 that Linkin Park “represent[s] what we all miss in rock music. What we loved about bands in what we think of as the golden age of rock music was that each record took on a new dimension, and you would follow that band through those dimensions, and you would become a fan of whatever they’re trying to do next.”
Bennington was friends with Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in May. Bennington performed “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s memorial service at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
In an open letter to Cornell after his death, Bennington wrote: ”Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude. … Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache wrapped up into one.”
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