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Chester Bennington

Chester Charles Bennington (born March 20, 1976) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. He is best known as the lead vocalist of rock band Linkin Park and Dead by Sunrise. He was originally the lead vocalist for Sean Dowdell And His Friends? and Grey Daze. He is also the current lead vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots and rock cover band Bucket of Weenies.

Bennington became known as a vocalist with Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000, which was a massive commercial success. The album was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005, making it the best-selling debut album of the decade, as well as one of the few albums to ever hit that many sales.[1] Linkin Park's following studio albums, MeteoraMinutes to MidnightA Thousand SunsLiving Things, and The Hunting Party, released in 2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2014 respectively, 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 worked on new material with Stone Temple Pilots in 2013 to release the EP High Rise on October 8, 2013 via their own record label, Play Pen LLC. Bennington has been ranked in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader(No. 46).

Early life Edit

Bennington performing in Dallas, Texas

Chester Bennington was born on March 20, 1976, in Phoenix, Arizona, to a nurse and a Phoenix police detective who worked with child sex abuse cases[2] and took double shifts.[3] Bennington took interest in music at a young age, citing Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as early inspirations[4] and dreamed of becoming a member of Depeche Mode.[5] Bennington's parents divorced when he was eleven years old and his father gained custody of him.[3] As a result of the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana,alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine,[4][6] and LSD.[3] Bennington eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews.[7] During a Linkin Park tour, he started heavily drinking[2] but claimed to have quit in 2011 noting "I just don't want to be that person anymore".[8] In an interview, Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old.[8] 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 age thirteen.[3]The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill and run away.[3] To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs.[3] Later, he revealed the abuser's identity to his father but Bennington chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.[6] At the age of seventeen, he moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity.[3] He worked at a Burger King restaurant and used his money for cocaine and crystal meth[9] before starting his career as a professional musician.[4]

Bennington was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said "I was knocked around like a rag doll at school for being skinny and looking different".[10][11]

Music career Edit

Early acts and Grey Daze Edit

Bennington's first began singing with band called Sean Dowdell and His Friends?. They released an eponymous three-track cassette in 1993. Later, Sean Dowdell and Bennington moved on to form a new band, Grey Daze, a post-grunge band from Phoenix, Arizona. The band recorded three albums; Demo in 1993, Wake Me in 1994, and ...no sun today in 1997. Bennington left Grey Daze in 1998, but struggled to find another band.[12]

Linkin Park Edit

Bennington was frustrated and almost ready to quit his musical career altogether when Jeff Blue, the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered him an audition with the future members of Linkin Park.[12] Bennington quit his day job at a digital services firm,[3] and took his family to California, where he had a successful audition with Linkin Park, who were then called "Xero".[12] He managed to record the song for his audition in a day, missing his own birthday celebration in the process. Bennington andMike Shinoda, the band's other vocalist, made significant progress together, but failed to find a record deal.[12] After facing numerous rejections, Jeff Blue, now a vice president of A&R at Warner Bros., intervened again to help the band sign with Warner Bros. Records.[12]

On October 24, 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, through Warner Bros. Records. Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics to Hybrid Theory based on some early material.[2] Shinoda characterized the lyrics as interpretations of universal feelings, emotions, and experiences, and as "everyday emotions you talk about and think about."[13][14] Bennington later described the songwriting experience to Rolling Stone magazine in early 2002, "It's easy to fall into that thing – 'poor, poor me', that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself. But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down."'[2]

Bennington primarily serves as Linkin Park's lead vocalist, but occasionally shares the role with Shinoda. All Music Guide described Bennington's vocals as "higher-pitched" and "emotional", in contrast to Shinoda's hip-hop-style delivery.[4] Both members also work together to write lyrics for the band's songs.[15]

Dead by Sunrise Edit

Dead by Sunrise started to form in 2005 while Chester Bennington was writing songs for Linkin Park's album Minutes to Midnight. On May 10, 2008, Dead by Sunrise performed four songs ("Walking in Circles", "Let Down", "Morning After", and "My Suffering") at the 13th anniversary party for Club Tattoo in Tempe, Arizona. The song titled "Morning After" was written by Chester Bennington and originally performed on September 12, 2001 at the Live in Berlin concert.[4] Bennington also performed Morning After with his cover band entitled Bucket of Weenies in many shows throughout 2005 and 2006. This was the first time that Bennington had "officially" performed the song under a new name—Dead by Sunrise. In addition, this band has recently started touring with Linkin Park in Europe. Videos have been filmed for "Crawl Back In" (September 8, 2009) and "Let Down" with the songs serving as the album's first two singles. "Crawl Back In" has reached the 11th spot on the Mainstream Rock chart. After the release of Out of Ashes on October 13, 2009, the band is currently on hiatus.

Stone Temple Pilots Edit

In February 2013, Stone Temple Pilots parted ways with long-time lead singer Scott Weiland. The band recruited Bennington to replace Weiland in May 2013. On May 19, 2013, the band released a free download of their first single, "Out of Time" that features Bennington via their official website, and is featured on their debut studio EP High Rise, which was released on October 8, 2013 through Play Pen, LLC. Bennington reflected on joining Stone Temple Pilots, stating, "Every band has its own kind of vibe. Stone Temple Pilots has this sexier, more classic rock feel to it. Linkin Park is a very modern, very tech-heavy type of band. I grew up listening to these guys. When this opportunity came up, it was just like a no-brainer." Before this happened, Bennington himself exclaimed years before in interviews that singing lead vocals in Stone Temple Pilots was his lifelong dream.[5][16]

Personal life Edit

Bennington has one child from a previous relationship with Elka Brand; Jamie.[17] He also adopted her son Isaiah.[18] Bennington married his first wife, Samantha Marie Olit, on October 31, 1996[17] but could not afford a wedding ring.[6] They had one child together, Draven Sebastian Bennington, who was born on April 19, 2002.[17] Bennington's relationship with his first wife declined during his early years with Linkin Park, and they divorced in 2005.[19] After divorcing his first wife, Bennington married Talinda Ann Bentley, a former Playboy model,[17] with whom he has three children, Tyler Lee Bennington and twins, Lily and Lila (born 2011). The wedding ceremony was custom designed and performed by Mary Jean Valente of "A Ceremony of the Heart". Bennington and his family live in a house in Gilbert, Arizona when he is not on tour.[20]

Chester and Talinda were harassed by a cyberstalker named Devon Townsend for almost a year. Townsend was found guilty of tampering with the couple's email, as well as sending threatening messages, and was later sentenced to two years in prison.[20]

Bennington is a tattoo enthusiast.[21] Bennington has done work and promotions with Club Tattoo, a recognized tattoo parlor in Tempe, Arizona. Club Tattoo is owned by Sean Dowdell, Chester's friend since high school. They played together in two bands, "Sean Dowdell and his friends?" and "Grey Daze".[22][23] He showed off his tattoos by posing shirtless for PETA's "Ink, Not Mink" anti-fur campaign.[24]

Bennington is a fan of the Phoenix Suns and Goran Dragic.[25][26][27] He is also a fan of Arizona sports teams in general, including the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Phoenix Coyotes.[28] In a January 2011 interview, in response to the 2011 Tucson shooting, Bennington said "There's a non-violent way to express yourself and get your point across – regardless of what you're saying or what your point is. In a free society, people have a right to believe whatever they want to believe. That's their business and they can speak their mind...But nobody, even in a free society, has the right to take another person's life. Ever. That's something that we really need to move beyond".[29]

Health and injuries Edit

Bennington has had medical issues outside the limelight. He suffered a severe bite from a recluse spider while touring with the OzzFest in 2001.[30] Bennington was plagued with poor health during the making of Meteora, and struggled to attend some of the album's recording sessions.[31] He fell ill during the summer of 2003, and eventually underwent surgery.[32] Bennington sustained a wrist injury in October 2007 while attempting to jump off a platform during a show in Melbourne, Australia at the Rod Laver Arena. Despite the injury, he continued to perform the entire show with a broken wrist, before heading to the emergency room. He received 5 stitches.[33][34]

In 2011, Bennington fell ill again, and Linkin Park was forced to cancel three shows and reschedule two from the A Thousand Suns World Tour.[35] Bennington injured his shoulder during the band's tour in Asia and was advised by doctors to have immediate surgery, cancelling their final show at Pensacola Beach, Florida and ending their tour.[36]

Other works Edit

Bennington joined Z-Trip in 2005 for the debut single "Walking Dead", released on Z-Trip's major label album Shifting Gears. "Walking Dead" was a Top Ten Single in the US. Bennington also made a surprise appearance during Z-Trip's performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2005.

Bennington teamed up with original Orgy guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh, who perform together as Julien-K, for a solo project. Chester's band is called Dead by Sunrise, formerly known as Snow White Tan. Dead by Sunrise has since released their debut studio albumOut of Ashes on October 13, 2009.[37] Chester also worked on Julien-K's debut album Death to Analog and is credited as executive producer. In 2009, Ryan Shuck said, "Both bands are the same. The one where Chester sings and writes is Dead by Sunrise, but when I sing, and Amir and I are the primary writers, it becomes Julien-K and it's more electro and much darker... Julien-K and Dead by Sunrise are basically a creative collective, we're sort of a Warhol-style factory in that sense... Dead by Sunrise is Chester's Julien-K if that makes any sense."[38]

On May 18, 2013, Bennington took the stage at KROQ's Weenie Roast with Stone Temple Pilots who parted ways with their lead singer, Scott Weiland on February 27, 2013. The setlist included original Stone Temple Pilots songs, as well as their first single with Bennington on vocals called "Out of Time", which debuted on May 19, and was available for free download. It was later announced by Chester and the band in an exclusive KROQ interview that he was officially the new frontman of Stone Temple Pilots and discussed the possibility of a new album and tour. The song "Out of Time" is featured on their EP High Rise, which was released on October 8, 2013.

Album contributions Edit

Year Artist Song Release
2001 Stone Temple Pilots featuring Chester Bennington "Wonderful (Live)" The Family Values 2001 Tour
2002 Chester Bennington "System" Queen of the Damnedsoundtrack'
Cyclefly featuring Chester Bennington "Karma Killer" Crave
DJ Lethal featuring Chester Bennington "State of the Art" N/A
2004 Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring DJ Q-bert, Grand Wizard Theodore, Jazzy Jay, Lord Finesse, Mike Shinoda, Rahzel & Chester Bennington / Tim Meadows "Rock N' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) (Part 2) / Knockers" White People
2005 Z-Trip featuring Chester Bennington "Walking Dead" Shifting Gears
Mötley Crüe featuring Chester Bennington "Home Sweet Home" (remake) N/A
2006 Chester Bennington "Morning After (Julien-K Remix)" Underworld: Evolution (soundtrack)
Mindless Self Indulgence "What Do They Know? (Mindless Self Indulgence Vs. Julien-K & Chester Bennington Remix)" Another Mindless Rip Off
2007 Young Buck featuring Chester Bennington "Slow Ya Roll" Buck the World
2008/2010 Chris Cornell featuring Chester Bennington "Hunger Strike (Live at Projekt Revolution2008)" Songs from the Underground

A Decade Underground

2010 Santana featuring Chester Bennington & Ray Manzarek "Riders on the Storm" (The Doors cover) Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time

Music producer Edit

Chester Bennington executive produced the E.P for Los Angeles, Tripduster band Hellflower, which is fronted by his long-time friend and Director of Activities (D.O.A), Church.[39]

Filmography Edit

Bennington also made a cameo in the 2006 film Crank as a customer in a pharmacy.[40] He later appeared as a horse-track spectator in the film's 2009 sequel, Crank: High Voltage.[41] Bennington also had a role as the ill-fated skinhead, Evan, in the 2010 film Saw 3D.[42]

Chester Bennington is working with his long-time friend and director of activities, Church, on developing an upcoming television show, Mayor of the World, with executive producer Trip Taylor.[43]


Year Title Role Notes Source 2006 Crank Pharmacy Stoner [40]
2009 Crank: High Voltage Hollywood Park Guy [41]
2010 Saw 3D Evan [44]
2012 Artifact Himself

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