Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, and occasional actor. He served as the lead vocalist of the bands Linkin Park, Grey Daze, Dead by Sunrise, and Stone Temple Pilots.
Bennington first gained prominence as a vocalist following the release of Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory (2000), which was a worldwide commercial success. The album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2005, making it the best-selling debut album of the decade, as well as one of the few albums ever to achieve that many sales. Linkin Park’s following studio albums, from Meteora (2003) to One More Light (2017), continued the band’s success.
Bennington formed his own band, Dead by Sunrise, as a side project in 2005. The band’s debut album, Out of Ashes, was released on October 13, 2009. He became the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots in 2013 to release the extended play record High Rise on October 8, 2013, via their own record label, Play Pen, but left in 2015 to focus solely on Linkin Park. As an actor, he appeared in films such as Crank (2006), Crank: High Voltage (2009), and Saw 3D (2010).
Bennington struggled with depression and substance abuse for most of his life, starting in his childhood. On July 20, 2017, he was found dead at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California; his death was ruled a suicide by hanging. Hit Parader magazine placed Bennington at number 46 on their list of the “Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time”. Bennington has been credited by several publications as one of the greatest rock vocalists of his generation. Writing for Billboard, Dan Weiss stated that Bennington “turned nu-metal universal”
Chester Charles Bennington was born on March 20, 1976, in Phoenix, Arizona. His mother was a nurse, while his father was a police detective who worked on child sexual abuse cases. Bennington took an interest in music at a young age, citing the bands Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as his earliest inspirations, and dreamed of becoming a member of Stone Temple Pilots, which he later achieved when he became their lead singer. Bennington was a victim of sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until he was 13 years old. Years later, he revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to pursue him after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.
Bennington’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old. The abuse and his situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to run away and kill people.To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. After the divorce, Bennington’s father gained custody of him. Bennington started abusing alcohol, marijuana, opium, cocaine, meth, and LSD. He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said that he was “knocked around like a rag doll at school, for being skinny and looking different”. At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother. He was banned from leaving the house for a time when his mother discovered his drug activity. He worked at a Burger King before starting his career as a professional musician.