By Carson Mlnarik
When Chester Bennington took his life July 20, 2017, he left behind a wife, six kids and a legacy in the music business that hasn’t been forgotten.
Linkin Park’s U.S. music sales increased 5,332 percent after Bennington’s death, according to reports, and songs like “Numb” and “Breaking the Habit” still pepper the airwaves.
The Linkin Park lead singer lived in Palos Verdes Estates, California, but maintained his ties to his home state of Arizona, rooting for the Suns, Cardinals and Diamondbacks. He was heavily involved in Club Tattoo with his high school friend Sean Dowdell. When he lived here, he politely greeted fans at grocery stores and other everyday places.
Bennington’s legacy and life will be remembered with tributes on Friday, July 20, at Club XS in Tucson, and Saturday, July 21, at Club Red in Mesa. The all-ages celebrations were conceived by Jacob Ryan, lead vocalist for the Tucson nu-metal band Lethal Injektion and a hardcore Linkin Park fan.
“Chester was an icon worldwide and had an impact in the music industry in all markets,” Ryan says. “Everyone in Arizona looked up to him. He was an inspiration. He was humble, and he made our music scene better.”
Her Name Echoes, The Diversion Program and Celestial Exile will also perform. Former Linkin Park touring bassist, Scott Koziol, is set to appear with Lethal Injektion for “a celebration of Chester’s music,” he says.
“Chester Bennington loved to laugh, sing and entertain,” Koziol says. “I’ll be playing shows in Tucson and Mesa to honor the life, music and spirit of Chester.”
Mesa and Bennington had a tight relationship as the singer was the keynote speaker for the Mesa Music Festival in 2013. Not only did Bennington deliver a rousing keynote, he received a key to the city from then-mayor Scott Smith.
“He was so candid, so generous and humble, it was amazing,” says Indian Antao, the New Jersey music promoter behind the Mesa Music Festival. “He really did affect a lot of people for us.”
Antao recounts Bennington’s generosity. He attended the festival’s after party and took pictures with more than 200 fans.
“I (walked) up to him and said, ‘Hey Chester, you don’t have to do this,’ and he says, ‘No, man, I love this,’” Antao says. “I was so enamored by the guy.”
Antao and Bennington met through the festival, but they maintained a relationship. Antao remembers driving on an interstate and pulled over when he received the news of Bennington’s suicide.
“I’ll never forget that exit, I pulled over and sat there for half an hour, just numb,” he says.
Bennington’s passing was surprising for everyone, including Linkin Park co-frontman, Mike Shinoda, who confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true.”
Shinoda, who was one of the band’s founding members, recently told iHeartRadio he doesn’t know if Linkin Park will continue without Bennington. Shinoda further addresses the loss and healing in his new album, Post Traumatic.
“It’s a journey out of grief and darkness, not into grief and darkness,” Shinoda says of the collection, which he will support at festival dates across the world this summer.
As for Bennington’s widow, Talinda, she routinely speaks about the stigma surrounding mental health and depression. She appeared on Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis, a CNN special with Anderson Cooper.
She says she feels “more educated” about warning signs like “hopelessness, change of behavior, isolation,” which, she said, were there in the days leading up to his death.
Ryan feels the same and will donate all proceeds from the event to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Chester Bennington Tribute and Celebration, Club XS, 5851 E. Speedway Boulevard, Suite 141, Tucson, 520.885.3030, clubxsconcerts.com, 7 p.m. Friday, July 20, call for charge.
Chester Bennington Tribute and Celebration, Club Red, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa, 480.200.7529, clubredrocks.com, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 21, $10.
For more events around town, visit our events page.