On: Chester Bennington

21 Jul

From LP’s Twitter

//Cue an incoherent mess of words.

A lot of my favourite artists have died in the last couple of years – Bowie, Cornell, Rickman, Fisher – the list goes on. Today, it was Chester.

I have nothing new to add to the conversation around the tragic circumstances of his death; hell, I didn’t even keep up with his band post-Meteora. But everyone, especially from my generation, will likely have a story on how his powerful vocals drilled through the fog of confusion and angst in our teenage minds – So here’s mine:

I had a tough time growing up – my family, in classic desi fashion, had little in the way of emotional development or support to offer, my company was quite one-dimensional, I was adrift in this confusion and paralysis that I couldn’t quite coherently voice/identify. I didn’t get to explore my interests, expand my boundaries, or be supported in anything beyond The Right Path for a growing boy. In that haze struck lightning – my sister listening to this tape called Hybrid Theory. She was forwarding to the tune she’d heard on radio (In The End, which was literally everywhere then, as it turns out). But she stopped short, WAY too short, and I got my first taste of One Step Closer. Chester’s voice was trying to scream its way out of the old Sony stereo player we owned. 5, maybe 6 seconds of angst-ridden soul awakening later, my sister moved on because “it was too noisy”. That night I took a break from Daastan e Amir Hamza to pop in our headphones into that stereo and devour the entire album. Twice. Epiphany.

Chester’s voice rang in my head for years to come. I can honestly say that the power of his vocals, his delivery, his range, is what led to me to realize how awake my brain was on music, how essential rock and metal would be to my sense of self and sanity. I may have moved on to other bands, other musicians, other artists, but his was the voice that started it all. I know this because I dug up the first two Linkin Park albums today for a tribute listen and it was like I’d Time Turner’d back to 2001/02. Suppressed memories, memories of discovery, the euphoria, the blood pumping rush of adrenaline that I got the first time that angry, powerful voice.

Teenage me really connected with his words – “Yeah! This guy’s speaking to my soul!” Now? Maybe he was actually speaking of his soul.

Goddammit Chester. You’ve gone too soon. May you find more rest now. Thank you for bursting me out of my bubble into the glorious, living expanse of the world.


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