Leave out all the rest: bidding farewell to Chester Bennington

I can’t help but wonder if we saw this coming

Thursday night was going to be a night of celebration for myself and some friends; we had just wrapped up a job and our spirits were high. But in the middle of our second beer the news about Chester Bennington broke. The frontman of Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise and Stone Temple Pilots, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles. He committed suicide at 41. I felt a moment of disbelief.

It has been a while since last I listened to the band that opened the world of alternative music to me as a child. In that moment of shared silence I recalled the haunting lyrics of ‘Leave out all the Rest’, Minutes to Midnight (2007).

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

I can’t help but wonder if we saw this coming. A man so broken by this world that the only way out was to take his own life. I am writing this not as a report on the death of another rockstar but as a story of a boy’s childhood hero. Chester Bennington made me want to pick up a mic and sing, pick up a pen and write, pick up a guitar and play.

The first time I listened to a Linkin Park track, ‘Faint’ from the album Meteora (2003), I was 12 years old and my mind was blown. I was utterly inspired. It was loud, fast and angry. My friends used to laugh at me for doing the rap on que and completely losing myself to the screaming parts. At that stage in my childhood it became my therapy and if not for Linkin Park, I would not have been as in love with music as I am today.

The band came onto the music scene with a blast, a mix of heavy rock riffs and hip-hop beats and lyrics. It became the perfect concoction to draw the kids of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The band was formed in 1996 and soon rose to international fame with their debut album Hybird Theory (2000), the album reached diamond status in the U.S and platinum in many other countries. The band became well known for their experimental style of mixing nu-metal with rap-metal and several other influences. They topped the Billboard 200 album charts with their 2003 album Meteora. Their experimental style still continued, collaborations with international hip-hop stars like Jay-Z soon followed. All of a sudden rap music and rock music became the thing that brought kids from different cultures together.

So many of my childhood memories are tied to these songs, and after the sad news I’m reliving every one of them. The good times – ‘Bleed it out’- and the bad times – ‘From the Inside’- the universality of the music speaks louder than any words I can possibly lay down, I fall short. If you are reading this do me, yourself and the world a favour and just listen. Close your eyes, open your mind and just listen.

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