This year has been one of the worst for music fans.
In 2017, we’ve said goodbye to Chris Cornell, Keith Mitchell, and Chuck Berry. The Allman Brothers Band have lost two members this year, with Butch Trucks and Gregg passing away. J. Geils, Allan Holdsworth, and John Blackwell Jr. were also laid to rest in the eight months since we counted in the New Year.
Since Chester Bennington’s passing, there has been widespread grief felt amongst fans across the world. I felt compelled to write a little note of appreciation to him considering all he’s done, not just for me, but for rock fans everywhere. He harnessed his depression and turned it into the most bittersweet of melodies.
Even posthumously, his legacy lives on, his tragic death a reminder that darkness can infect those enveloped in the purportedly glamorous and sparkly showbiz scene.
Depression and suicide do not discriminate.
On the day he passed, I was mindlessly flicking through Facebook on my phone when I came across an article stating that Chester Bennington had passed away. The news had just broken. My stomach dropped. I hoped it would be some kind of hoax. I searched for more articles on Google, and as I refreshed the page, more and more kept appearing. It was true.
Hybrid Theory and Meteora were two of the first rock albums I listened to. I credit my older brother for introducing me to so many bands that are now my unwavering favourites. As younger siblings do, I copied. I was around eight or nine when I began listening to Linkin Park, which in turn opened up a new world of music I hadn’t encountered before. I was learning, and these albums were my study material.
Since then, I became incredibly interested in rock; and all of its sub-genres (and still am!) I took up guitar. I joined a band. I started writing songs (albeit awfully). Before the days of streaming and YouTube, I was glued to Kerrang and Scuzz and relished every moment Linkin Park would appear (although I remember small Elaine was slightly spooked by the music video of Papercut – I still find it a little creepy, but that’s the point, right?)
Later, when I was a little older and Minutes to Midnight came out, it’s all my group of friends in school talked about. Their music accompanied me as I grew. It still does. What I appreciate about Linkin Park is how real their music is. How raw and unadulterated their sound is.
When you turn to Linkin Park’s music when you’re going through something, it feels as though Chester is going through it with you too. A breakup, a bereavement, a day when the cloud of depression hangs lower than usual, or even just a plain old shit day. It wasn’t just the sad days Linkin Park complimented. ‘We Made It’ is a particular favourite of mine since it’s basically a musical representation of a big, fat middle finger waving in the faces of all those that said ‘you can’t do that’.
Chester Bennington didn’t just cast a light on depression. He illuminated it. Struggling fans were reassured that they’re not alone. The more popular Linkin Park got, the more conversations of depression came into public discourse.
Even in his death, Chester is still helping those going through a rough time. In Dublin, a Hybrid Theory singalong was held at the Workman’s Club on the quays. All proceeds from the night went to Pieta House, a charity in Ireland which supports those affected by self-harm and suicide. Workman’s say they raised €2504.78 for Pieta House, which will go a long way in helping those that are in a bad place.
Unicef report that 1 in 10,000 Irish teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 will die by suicide, with young men three times as likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. We’re losing too many beautiful, talented people to an illness the tabloids have coined a ‘suicide epidemic’.
It should be noted however, that although his music was beautiful, the debilitation and acidity of depression was never veiled or romanticised. It was completely unsanitized. He was open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and the how the pain of suffering abuse when he was just a child continued to haunt him.
And music was his outlet. The level of emotion and pure talent between each note is unfathomable, it can’t be put into words because it demands to be felt; not by your ears, but by your soul.
And now the ripples caused by his death go unedited. Far from portraying him as a martyr, in an open letter from his bandmates, they speak of the agony of losing someone close to you to their own hand. Talinda Ann Bentley a widow at just 40. His six children now growing up without their daddy. There’s no glamour to be found in the loop of a hangman’s noose.
Although he sang with two other amazing bands; Dead by Sunrise and Stone Temple Pilots, I’ll always remember him for Linkin Park and the level to which his music spoke, and still speaks to me.
So, from the bottom of my heart – thank you Chester. I hope you have found peace and are free of your demons.
Sleep tight x
If you have been affected by anything raised in this article, you can visit Pieta.ie for resources. If you need a chat, you can call the Samaritans on 116123 (Ireland & UK number).
Please, if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, remember that it’s okay not to feel okay. A problem shared is a problem halved; you do not have to carry this weight on your own. You deserve the help you need.