At the 2016 Mesa Music Festival, Arizona native and lead singer of Linkin Park Chester Bennington made an appearance as a special keynote speaker. His stories of debauchery, drugs, and music had the audience laughing all night.
Bennington started out with a retelling of his entry into the music scene. Bennington was one of the lucky ones when it came to starting a career. He made his first record at 16 and dropped out of high school because the only thing he cared about was going to band practice on time, rehearsing all day long, and having shows. At this point, he was convinced that music was his life; he was going to make a career out of it.
His band began to succeed. Because of their dedication and time in the early years, they made better music and got the opportunity to make it as a band. By 18, Bennington’s group had opened for over 200 acts. Everything was going well until he turned 20.
At 20, Bennington was convinced that he would not make it. Record labels did not come to Arizona to sign bands, so his career never got off the ground. He made the decision to quit the music industry.
While he was on his music hiatus, Bennington got multiple offers to be in bands, but he turned them down. Right before his 23rd birthday, he got another call from a band that needed a singer. He seemed interested in the offer but Bennington described himself as “cocky and over everything”, so he turned the guy down.
The opportunity to work with the same band came up again a few years later, and Bennington did not turn it down. The reason why he decided to join the band this time was because “the beats were cool and the energy of it was different.”
Bennington thought this group had the chance to be something special, so he dropped everything and left for California. At first Bennington struggled. Having next to no money, he slept in his car for year. But he says it was all worth it.
YouTube 9.16.16 | A Message From Chester: Studio Update #7
Bennington said that all odds were against this band, that they had to fight for everything. Nobody wanted to sign the group, but in an instant, that was changed. One of the members got a job at Warner Bros. and the path to their career was paved.
What became a blessing was also a curse. The band had ongoing struggles with the label from producing merchandise to the name of the band. In the end, it all worked out. After changing the band name from Hybrid Theory to Linkin Park and selling more records than Warner Bros. ever expected, Linkin Park was thriving.
Bennington credits the group success to their commitment to staying true to themselves. They did not become a corporate robot. They did what they felt was right and it took Linkin Park far. Bennington said “The art comes first, that's what it's all about.” This motto is what made Linkin Park a household name.
Through his ups and downs, Bennington made a career out of what he loved to do. Never giving up is what made him extraordinarily great, and what gave the world one of the most prolific and musically inspiring bands: Linkin Park.
Special thanks to Ami Rogers of Square 1 Creative Management for inviting Tour Press Force to cover the 2016 Mesa Music Festival.