Following the death of Chester Bennington, She Drew The Gun’s Jenni Kickhefer reflects on his influence and how his powerful underlying message became one of her greatest sources of comfort.
The news of Chester Bennington’s death is absolutely devastating.
I can’t quite believe I’m even writing this. It’s one of those moments you’re certain isn’t happening.
Linkin Park were the band that paved the way for me into the chasm of heavier music and pulled me out of that 90s boy band, cheesy pop bubble.
They’d just come out with Meteora and Numb was all over the radio. It was like nothing I’d heard before, and it blew my tiny teeny bopper mind away.
My cousin ripped Hybrid Theory and Meteora onto a CD for me with no breaks between the songs. It was just one seamless piece of music that became my most listened to album of the year.
The next week there was a school disco and I was in baggy jeans, complete with the chains and a ripped t-shirt. I was asked if I was a goth and I replied, ‘No I just like Linkin Park and I don’t like dresses.’
Fast forward eight years later and you could find me at K1 in the Krazyhouse, in heels and a dress, moshing to Linkin Park and, on the odd occasion, you still might.
I’d never heard anything like it.
The fusion of rap, synths, piano and metal with brutally honest lyrics – they were just this whole other dimension of composing and listening to music for me.
Chester’s voice is so raw and open, you can feel the emotion rolling out of him tenfold. In fact his voice was the first that made me cry.
His voice taught me how to listen to the emotion in a song, not just the lyrics.
It showed me music could have depth and darkness to it, that it can be used as a cathartic process of self-expression and emotion.
Oddly, it also opened me up to appreciating my parents’ music a lot more – The Beatles, The Eagles, jazz, folk…
Music no longer had to be just a catchy happy hook or whoever was most popular at the time.
I’m not sat here claiming Linkin Park are my favourite band.
They’re not and I haven’t listened to them for a long while, but they are one of the musical cornerstones that shaped how and what I listen to.
They’re that gateway band that introduced me to a new world and way of thinking.
They’re that friend you might not see for years but when you do, it’s like nothing has changed and as long as you know they’re ok, you’ll be ok.
There’s a few bands I feel like that about, but Linkin Park was the first.
Chester talked about his battles openly in interviews.
He was an advocate for mental health and his struggles are right there in his lyrics.
He’s such an inspiration and beacon of strength for so many of his fans, he created a great thing with Linkin Park.
He brought people together, got people to open up and speak about their mental health issues and his death should, in no way, overshadow what he managed to bring to so many people.
Mental health doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t care how much money you have.
You might not think you know someone who suffers, but you do. Be kind, be thoughtful, and talk to those you keep around you. A cuppa can go a long way, trust me.”
Record company executive, Gary Lancaster, who spent a decade at Warner Music Group whom Linkin Park were signed to, reflected to Getintothis:
“March 24 2001, Deftones play the London Docklands Arena on the Back To School tour. The main support is Linkin Park.
“I know nostalgia does a lot for ripening the ol memory fruit but it really was a special event. I was 15 and it was my first big show, but let’s face it… that is two bands that know how to do it. I was completely blown away by Linkin Park‘s energy.
“The fresh sound. At the time I thought they had upstaged Deftones. In time I realised they are so different and I just hadn’t ‘got’ Deftones yet of course, but LP were my band. Testament, they played the arena themselves pretty soon after.
“Hybrid Theory is a record that changed my life and defined my middle teen years, something I know is a story others will echo. It’s a very sad day when a man who helped millions of young people save themselves, couldn’t save himself.
“A common theme through everyone’s posts around this seems to be ‘talk to someone If you need to’. Well, realistically that’s not going happen is it. How about this strategy which I shall adopt… If you are worried about someone, talk to them.
“You might never know how much they need it. Be good to each other, and be in peace CB x”