NEW YORK: Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington killed himself on the birthday of his late friend Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, highlighting the close friendship between the two troubled singers.
Fellow rockers and the nu metal band’s legions of fans voiced shock and rolled out tributes after the 41-year-old Bennington was found hanging at his Los Angeles home on Thursday.
A number of fans pointed out on social media that Thursday would have been the 53rd birthday of Cornell, who similarly died from hanging in May and like Bennington had spent his life combatting drug and alcohol problems.
Bennington had toured with Cornell and sang Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” at his funeral.
Linkin Park guitarist and songwriter Mike Shinoda, in an interview shortly after Cornell’s death, said Bennington had been so affected that he could not keep his composure during a pre-concert sound-check.
“Chester couldn’t even make it through the song. He was getting halfway through and getting choked up,” Shinoda told Radio.com.
In a tribute penned after Cornell’s death, Bennington said he was weeping “with sadness, as well as gratitude, for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family.”
“You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one,” he said in the tribute posted by Cornell’s family on Facebook.
“I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that,” he said.
Cornell’s widow has cast doubt on whether the Soundgarden singer intentionally committed suicide, saying his judgment may have been impaired by his anxiety medication.
Move to name ‘Linkin Park’
Linkin Park was one of the key bands in the movement of nu metal, blending Bennington’s angst-ridden, raw vocals with pop structure and rapping by Shinoda.
The band won a runaway success with its debut “Hybrid Theory,” which became the top-selling album in the United States in 2001.
Band lore said that the rockers, after testing a series of monikers, named themselves after Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, California, changing the spelling to stand out on the internet.
In the wake of Bennington’s death, a fan petition asked the sun-kissed city on the Pacific Ocean to change the spelling formally.
Petition leader Sarah Rose said she had listened to Linkin Park in middle school to cope with bullying.
“For a large faction of people in my generation, Linkin Park’s music helped those who felt alienated find voice and strength,” she wrote to the city council on petition site Care2, quickly nearing her goal of 5,000 signatures.
She noted that plenty of other monuments already stood to the park’s original namesake — Civil War president Abraham Lincoln.
Among tributes to Bennington, baseball fans at the Los Angeles Dodgers stadium on Thursday night heard organist Dieter Ruehle play a rendition of one of Linkin Park’s most recognizable songs, “Numb.”
And hip-hop duo Run The Jewels opened a performance on late-night show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” by dedicating a song to Bennington.
Bennington had also known another major grunge singer, Scott Weiland, who died of an overdose in December 2015. Before Weiland’s death, Bennington had temporarily taken over as frontman of his band Stone Temple Pilots.
While stunned members of Linkin Park were working on a band statement on Bennington’s death, Stone Temple Pilots saluted him as “an incredible human being.”
“A beacon of light and hope is what you will always be to us,” Stone Temple Pilots said in a statement.
“We love you Chester. We will miss you.