Where were you a year ago — when you first heard the news?
First, I saw the statuses slowing changing on my Facebook feed: RIP Chester. Then, I received a text from my boyfriend asking if I had heard about Chester Bennington. I had to look it up and see it for myself.
Not only had one of the greatest voices in rock music passed away — but it had been by suicide. My heart sank and tears began streaming down my face. I absolutely could not believe it and felt like I had lost a personal friend.
It was just two months after the death of his friend, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, whose birthday was also July 20th and I was still in shock by that (read my ‘Remembering Chris Cornell’ article). Mental health is an issue that is all around us but often not talked about. Affecting 1 in 4 people, it’s time to stop ignoring the stigmas and start having conversations. Two incredibly talented individuals who, on the outside, had all the makings of the life many of us dream of. But they were fighting a losing battle on the inside.
I was so sad that Chester (and Chris) had been so sad. And that this horrible event occurred and how it was going to affect everyone who knew them — even strangers like me.
I was sixteen years old the first time I heard Linkin Park.
Being the night person I was, it was nearly 3am and I was watching music videos on MTV (quite similar to the way I was introduced to Soundgarden). The video for “One Step Closer” came on and I remember being transfixed with everything about it. From the kids running in the sewer, the neon hair of the singer, the rap elements and that forever identifiable guitar riff — I was HOOKED.
I owned “Hybrid Theory” shortly thereafter. To this day, it is still one of the greatest albums in my collection. It is such a near-perfect album. The perfect amount of aggression and sadness wrapped up in such a creatively supportive way. I would listen to that album on repeat whenever I could for months. It will forever remind me of that time in my life. I know I’m not alone in feeling nostalgic when reflecting on Linkin Park — they guided so many of us through our angsty-teen years.
It’s a strange and surreal feeling when a celebrity you admire passes away. The first time a celebrity death really affected me was Heath Ledger and then Robin Williams. You realize that no one is invincible. And the fact that a person you (probably) never met but who had such a profound impact on your life is no longer around? It is indeed a loss.
I wish I had been fortunate enough to experience Linkin Park live and am quite envious of everyone who has. As a fan, I’m so thankful that we still have his music, his voice and his words. But as a person, I will always be upset that his light went out so soon. I simply wasn’t ready.