Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, whose screeching vocals helped the rock-rap band become one of the most commercially successful acts in the 2000s, was found dead July 20 in his home near Los Angeles. He was 41.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner said that the office is investigating Mr. Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide but that no additional details were available. Mr. Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life.
Linkin Park, which fused sounds from nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop, sold 10 million copies of its 2000 debut album, “Hybrid Theory, and 4 million of 2003’s “Meteora.” Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury.
The success helped Linkin Park become Billboard’s No. 1 act of the decade for rock songs and alternative songs. Mr. Bennington’s voice could soar with piercing strength or descend to a whisper. Rolling Stone once called it a “shrapnel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from someone twice his size.”
The band also sold millions of copies of its remix album, “Reanimation,” and its mash-up record with Jay-Z, “Collision Course.” It won Grammys for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling” and best rap/sung collaboration for “Numb/Encore” in 2005. Linkin Park was on tour and had a show scheduled for next week at New York’s Citi Field with Blink 182.
Linkin Park released their most recent album, “One More Light,” in May. It was a CD that divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of moody pop. One song on the album, “Heavy,” opens with the words: “I don’t like my mind right now.”
Although the band had always experimented with different sounds, some claimed Linkin Park had sold out, which Bennington denied. “One More Light” became the band’s fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200.
Mr. Bennington told the Associated Press in 2010 that because of the sound Linkin Park is known for, it’s virtually impossible to satisfy the band’s many kinds of fans.
“We’re making music for us, that we like. We’re not making music for other people,” he said. “We’re not thinking, ‘Let’s make a pie-graph of all our fans and find out how many people fit in whatever category and then make the perfect album for them.’ Like, that would be absolutely ridiculous.”
Chester Charles Bennington was born in Phoenix on March 20, 1976. He told an interviewer that he was sexually assaulted by an older male friend for much of his adolescence and that that, combined with his parents’ divorce, left him feeling alone and helpless. His father, a police detective, won custody rights but worked late shifts and was rarely around.
“It was an awful time,” he told the rock magazine Kerrang. “I hated everybody in my family: I felt abandoned by my mom, my dad was not very emotionally stable then, and there was no-one I could turn to — at least that’s how my young mind felt. The only thing I wanted to do was kill everybody and run away.”
Mr. Bennington, who eventually moved back in with his mother, sought escape in drugs, particularly alcohol and LSD, as well as music. He said he felt a connection to Depeche Mode and the Stone Temple Pilots, bands on which he modeled some of his earlier bands.
When he got his big break in 1999, Mr. Bennington was an assistant at a digital-services firm in Phoenix. A music executive sent him a demo from the band Xero, which needed a lead singer. (He had been recommended by his attorney.) Mr. Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the band’s playing and sent the results back. He soon got the gig, and the band changed its named to Hybrid Theory and then Linkin Park.
Mr. Bennington was close friends with Chris Cornell, who died by hanging earlier this year, and performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Soundgarden singer’s memorial in late May. He was the godfather of Cornell’s 11-year-old son, Chris. Cornell’s 53rd birthday would have been on the day Mr. Bennington was found dead.
Mr. Bennington’s first marriage, to Samantha Olit, ended in divorce. In 2005, he wed Talinda Bentley, a model. He had six children from a previous relationship and his marriages. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.