Chester Charles Bennington (born March 20, 1976) is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. He is best known as the vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Linkin Park.
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. Linkin Park’s following studio albums, Reanimation, Meteora, Minutes to Midnight, and A Thousand Suns, released in 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2010 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.
In 2007, Bennington was placed at #46 on Hit Parader’s list of “Heavy Metal’s All-Time Top 100 Vocalists”.
On October 24, 2000 Linkin Park released their debut album through Warner Bros. Records. Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics to Hybrid Theory based on some early material. Shinoda characterized the lyrics as interpretations of universal feelings, emotions, and experiences, and as “everyday emotions you talk about and think about.” 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. ”
—Chester Bennington, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2002
Hybrid Theory was released in the United States on October 24, 2000 following the debut of “One Step Closer” on the radio. It entered the U.S. Billboard 200 charts at #16 in late 2000, and was certified gold by the RIAA five weeks after its release. In 2001, Hybrid Theory sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the year, and it was estimated that the album continued selling 100, 000 copies per week in early 2002. Throughout the following years, the album continued to sell at a fast pace and was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2005 for selling 10 million copies in the U.S. It has sold 24 million copies worldwide as of 2009, including over 10 million in the U.S. which makes it the band’s best-selling album and the best-selling debut album of the 21st century.
The follow up to Hybrid Theory would ultimately become Meteora. The band began to work on new material amidst their saturated schedule, spending a sliver of their free time in their tour bus’ studio. The band officially announced the production of a new studio album in December 2002, revealing their new work was inspired by the rocky region of Meteora in Greece, where numerous monasteries have been built on top of the rocks. Meteora featured a mixture of the band’s previous nu metal and rapcore styles with newer innovative effects, including the induction of a shakuhachi (a Japanese flute made of bamboo) and other instruments.]Linkin Park’s second album debuted on March 25, 2003 and instantly earned worldwide recognition, going to #1 in the US and UK, and #2 in Australia.
Linkin Park returned to the recording studios in 2006 to work on new material. To produce the album, the band chose Rick Rubin. Despite initially stating the record would debut sometime in 2006, it was delayed until 2007. The band had recorded thirty to fifty songs in August 2006, when Shinoda stated the album was halfway completed. Bennington later added that the new album would stray away from their previous nu metal sound.Warner Bros. Records officially announced that the band’s third studio album, entitled Minutes to Midnight, would be released on May 15, 2007 in the United States.After spending fourteen months working on the album, the band opted to further refine their album by removing five of the original seventeen tracks. The album’s title, a reference to the Doomsday Clock, foreshadowed the band’s new lyrical themes.Minutes to Midnight sold over 600,000 copies in its first week, making it one of the most successful debut week albums in recent years. The album also took the top spot on the Billboard Charts.Linkin Park’s newest album, A Thousand Suns, was also co-produced with Rick Rubin and was released on September 14, 2010, with its first single, “The Catalyst”, a success.
Bennington was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Bennington attented Ironwood High School. He took interest in music at a young age, citing Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots as early inspirations. Bennington’s parents separated in the late 1980s. He later struggled with cocaine and methamphetamine addictions. Bennington eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. He worked at a Burger King restaurant before starting his career as a professional musician.
Before joining Linkin Park, Bennington was a vocalist in Grey Daze, a grunge band from Phoenix, Arizona.He left Grey Daze in 1998, but struggled to find another band to sing in. After nearly quitting his musical career altogether, Jeff Blue, the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered Bennington an audition with the future members of Linkin Park. Bennington quit his day job, and took his family to California, where he had a successful audition with Linkin Park, who were then called “Hybrid Theory”. Bennington and Mike Shinoda, the band’s other vocalist, made significant progress together, but failed to find a record deal. 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.