The rock world was left stunned earlier this year when Chester Bennington committed suicide aged just 41. The Linkin Park frontman had suffered a lengthy battle with depression before hanging himself at his LA home. But despite his troubled state of mind, Bennington still ensured his family’s financial future would remain secure.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1976 to a nurse mother and police officer father, the young Bennington developed a passion for music early on. But his career plans were very nearly sidelined by drugs. In his teens, the star began to misuse various illegal substances, including cocaine, marijuana and LSD, before finally getting clean.
During his rise to fame, the tormented singer also talked about how he’d been sexually abused by an older male friend for six years of his childhood. The star admitted he didn’t ask for help at the time for fear of being accused of making it up. Bennington used writing songs as a means of dealing with the harrowing experience.
Bennington performed with two bands, Sean Dodwell and His Friends? and post-grunge outfit Grey Daze, before joining Linkin Park. Shortly after, the band signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records and in 2000 issued debut album, Hybrid Theory. A hugely successful nu-metal affair, it would go on to sell 11 million copies in the States alone.
Bennington served as lead vocalist on the record and co-penned its lyrics with Mike Shinoda. In a Rolling Stone interview about the songwriting process, Bennington said, “It’s easy to fall into that thing – ‘poor, poor me,’ that’s where songs like “Crawling” come from… But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions.”
Linkin Park would go on to score four consecutive number one albums including 2003’s Meteora, 2007’s Minutes to Midnight and 2012’s Living Things. They also topped the charts with Collision Course, a collaborative remix EP with Jay-Z. With sales of over 70 million records, they are one of the biggest-selling band of the 21st century.
In common with other Linkin Park members, Bennington also found the time to pursue a number of side projects. In 2005 he joined fellow musicians Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck to form Dead by Sunrise. Their first and only studio effort, Out of Ashes, arrived four years later.
Bennington also briefly pursued a film career. He had a bit-part role as a pharmacy customer in the 2006 action movie Crank and made another cameo in its 2009 sequel. He then played hapless skinhead gang member Evan in the seventh installment of the Saw franchise.
In 2013 Bennington fulfilled a long-held wish when he replaced Scott Weiland as frontman of Stone Temple Pilots. He spent two years performing with the rock band, as well as recording an EP, High Rise, with them. But, due to his Linkin Park obligations, he had to give up the position in 2015.
By then, Bennington was a father of six. Tyler Lee and twins Lilly and Lila, were from his ongoing marriage to ex-Playboy model Talinda Ann Bentley. First son Jaime and adopted son Isaiah were from a much earlier relationship with Elka Brand, while Draven Sebastian was born during Bennington’s first marriage to Samantha Marie Olit.
In 2017 Bennington purchased a new family home in Los Angeles’ Palos Verdes Estates for a cool $2.5 million. The 3,956-square-foot property boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, three outdoor decks, a swimming pool and spa. The deal went through just eight days after Bennington’s friend and fellow rock icon, Chris Cornell, killed himself.
Tragically, this would also be the place where Bennington would spend his final hours. For just two months after buying the house, the star was found dead there by his housekeeper. Bennington, who had battled depression throughout his life, had hanged himself.
The fact that Bennington had bought the house so close to his death suggests the star wanted to ensure his family were settled and secure. According to reports, the star had a net worth somewhere between $25m and $30m at the time of his death. However, it’s not yet known whether the singer set up a will.
Numerous musicians paid tribute to Bennington following his tragic suicide. Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Machine Gun Kelly and Matt Heafy from Trivium all covered Linkin Park songs live to pay their respects. Jared Leto delivered a touching eulogy at the MTV Video Music Awards, while his ex-Grey Daze and Dead By Sunrise bandmates honored him at a special gig.
Linkin Park also canceled their North American tour in wake of their frontman’s death but went on to announce a one-off tribute show. Rapper Mike Shinoda later revealed to radio station KROQ how much he’d miss his bandmate. “He was such a fun guy. When he’d walk in the room there was such a positive, funny, upbeat energy,” he said.
Bennington had detailed his struggle with depression shortly before his death in an interview with 102.7 KIIS-FM, saying, “When I’m inside myself, when I’m in my own head, it gets… This place right here [points to his head], this skull between my ears, that is a bad neighborhood, and I should not be in there alone.”
Bennington took his own life on the same day that close friend Chris Cornell would have turned 53. The Soundgarden frontman also killed himself by hanging just two months previously, and Bennington later sung at his funeral. He also posted a message on Instagram which read, “I can’t imagine a world without you in it.”
Following his death, wife Talinda took to Twitter to post a video which highlighted how “depression doesn’t have a face or a mood.” In the clip Bennington can be seen laughing and joking with his children in a jelly bean game. Yet just 36 hours later the star had ended his life.
Bennington’s family later announced they would be setting up a charity organization aimed at preventing suicides. Relatives were reportedly concerned that troubled fans may follow in the footsteps of their idol and wanted to provide a service which would help them. Linkin Park also posted suicide prevention information on their tribute website to the star.
Talinda Bennington also released an official statement following her husband’s death in which she spoke about his compassion for others, saying, “He was a bright, loving soul with an angel’s voice. May God bless us all and help us turn to one another when we are in pain. Chester would’ve wanted us to do so.”