STORY FROM ABC.NET.AU
Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, who sold millions of albums with an ever-changing mix of hard rock, hip-hop and rap, has been found dead in his home near Los Angeles. He was 41.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner, Brian Elias, said authorities were investigating Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide at Palos Verdes Estates, a small coastal city near Los Angeles, but no additional details were available.
Band co-founder and producer Mike Shinoda said on Twitter he was “shocked and heartbroken”.
Warner Brothers chief executive and chairman Cameron Stang said in a statement: “Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma, and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul.
Fans noted that Bennington had died on what would have been the 53rd birthday of close friend and fellow musician Chris Cornell, who died by suicide earlier this year.
When the world learnt of Cornell’s death, Bennington wrote to his friend on Instagram: “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.
“I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life.”
Bennington 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.
Bennington was also the godfather of Cornell’s 11-year-old son Chris.
Cornell’s wife Vicky was among those taking to Twitter to lament the loss of Bennington.
The Cornell family said in a statement that they were overwhelmed by the news of Bennington’s death.
“The Cornell family is overwhelmed by the heartbreaking news about Chester Bennington which tragically comes so soon after their family’s own loss,” a Cornell family spokesperson said.
“They open up their loving arms to Chester’s family and share in the sorrow with all those who loved him.”
Linkin Park albums back in the charts after death
Bennington’s death came a week before Linkin Park was due to kick off the US leg of its 10th headline tour.
They had been showcasing their seventh album, One More Light, released in May. It divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of moody pop.
The band had a show at New York’s Citi Field scheduled for next week with Blink 182.
The Grammy Award-winning group sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, including 10 million copies of 2000 debut Hybrid Theory, and 4 million of 2003’s multiplatinum Meteora. Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury.
They also sold millions with remix album Reanimation and the 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.
Five of their records resurfaced in the top 50 on the iTunes charts soon after news of Bennington’s death broke, with Hybrid Theory and Meteora hitting the top 10.
Critics wrote that 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”.
One song on the latest album, Heavy, opens with the lyrics: “I don’t like my mind right now.”
Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addiction 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.
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 number one album debut on the Billboard 200.
“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!”
‘We’re making music for us’
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.
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.
“Since I learned how to talk I’ve been telling everybody I was gonna grow up to be a singer,” Bennington told the ABC’s Rage program in 2001.
“When I was two, I used to run around singing Foreigner songs — there’s tapes of me doing that.
“A lot of hard work and dedication and faith can get you through anything and make it happen.”
Bennington told The Associated Press in 2010 that because of the sound the band is known for — fusing nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop — it was virtually impossible to satisfy their 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.