Today, the music industry mourns the loss of Chester Bennington, vocalist of Linkin Park. He was found dead in his home in Los Angeles on Thursday just before 9am (midnight Malaysia time) while his family is out of town. The authorities are treating the case as a possible suicide.
The 41-year-old vocalist passed away on what would have been his dear friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday – the frontman of Soundgarden hung himself on 18 May this year – a day before the release of Linkin Park’s latest album, One More Light.
Chester was married and left six children behind.
As a 90’s kid, I remember singing along and screaming my heart out to my favourite songs, Crawling and In the End. Part of Hybrid Theory – the band’s debut breakthrough album in 2000 – the songs left a huge impact the moment they were released. Chester’s dynamic vocals paint the anguish of the world and the woes of the fallen in clear view for listeners, which make the songs relatable hence lovable to many of us, even to this day.
My question is, how did we not realise the obvious signs and real call for help?
Linkin Park is known to be one of the greatest influence and pioneer in alternative rock, and have travelled across genres, collaborating with other artists including Jay-Z.
It’s tragic to think about phenomenal artistes who committed suicide – King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, female icon Marilyn Monroe, and so many more. It makes you wonder; what is the price for success in the world of arts? Is suffering a crucial part of the creating process?
It’s common knowledge that many musicians, especially performers, are plagued with drug and alcohol addiction. The modern performers; Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Chris Brown and many others have been to the rehab and back. Apparently, when it comes to arts, you need to feel. Most would agree anger and despair are very strong feelings; they bring out the true potential in a person.
According to Health.com, musicians are fifth in the top ten careers with high rates of depressive illness. Counting the years, we have witnessed exceptional artistes succumbing to suicide and substance abuse. I think it’s high time we prioritise mental and emotional health over “ground-breaking hits” from ruined relationships and painful experiences of these artistes.
Adele for instance, has proven that you can still be great if you choose not to suffer for your art. She revealed that she’s had depression from a very young age, and her music is “miserable”. However, when she released her 25 album, she admitted she would no longer thrive off of depression to create. Mary J. Blige too, claimed some of her fans are mad at her for “getting happy”, but she’s glad to have made the switch.
Hayley Williams, vocalist of Paramore said there was a point where she contemplated death. She addressed the period as a feeling of “hopelessness”, where she had “nothing left to sing” and wished everything would just stop. She decided to take a break from the band, before coming back with a healthier outlook. She now views her music as what has helped keep her alive and bring her back to a better place.
There is a clear lesson to be learned in the struggles of these musicians. Depression isn’t a joke, it leads to mental disturbances and pulls even the hardiest men down. These artistes are humans like us fans; vulnerable to pressure and high expectations.
We must realise there’s more to them than just their career, and express support in every aspect and every single step of their journey; to produce songs we love.
It’s a great pity another legend has crumbled. This fan worded my thoughts out so perfectly:
Goodbye, Chester. You will always be cherished as one of the Rock Gods.