A light goes out: Chester Bennington, 1976-2017
Chester Bennington’s voice soundtracked a generation and introduced them to a world of heavy music. We remember the man behind the songs, and a life gone far too soon
Saturday, 20 March, 1999. A skinny 23-year-old in Phoenix, Arizona, signs for a package sent from Los Angeles. It’s his birthday, but the package is no present – more an opportunity. Inside is a demo by a band called Xero. One side is instrumental, the other has singing, and throughout a band is trying to blend hip hop with metal.
The kid in Arizona, Chester Bennington, thinks: ‘Hmmm, I’m not really into the whole hip hop thing. But the music is really cool.’ Then he listens to it again. “I knew I could do it better,” he would admit years later.
The next day he goes into a recording studio. He knows people there, having played in a locally successful band, Grey Daze. He listens to the Xero demo once more, lays his own vocals over the top, and then calls Jeff Blue, the LA record label executive who sent it to him.
“I’m done,” he tells him. “When should I come out to LA?”