UPDATED with tour cancellation: Chester Bennington, the singer for the top-selling, influential nu metal band Linkin Park who later fronted Stone Temple Pilots, was found dead today, Deadline has confirmed. He was 41. A source says he died at his home in Palos Verdes Estates near Los Angeles but did not provide details. The Associated Press reports that it was a suicide by hanging.
Bennington was a close friend of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who hanged himself in May. Today would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Both men had struggled with substance abuse for many years.
The two-time Grammy-winning band, whose six-man lineup had remained unchanged since 2000, is scheduled to launch its 2017 North American tour a week from today in Boston and is set to wrap with an October 22 hometown date at the Hollywood Bowl. (UPDATE: The tour was canceled Friday.) The band always has been a popular and incendiary concert act, highlighted by the vocal interplay between Bennington and Shinoda. It won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Live Act in 2010.
A native of Phoenix, Bennington was the singer opposite rapper Mike Shinoda in Linkin Park, which formed in the mid-’90s in suburban Los Angeles and broke out with the mutliplatinum rap-rock album Hybrid Theory in 2000. The group became an instant favorite on alternative and mainstream rock stations, and the Warner Bros. Records disc went on to move more than 11 million copies in the U.S. alone and became one of the best-selling albums of the decade. It scored a Best Rock Album Grammy nom and spawned modern- and mainstream-rock hit singles “One Step Closer” and “Crawling” along with “In the End,”which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The band also was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2001 and won Best Hard Rock Performance for “Crawling” that year.
The band toured the world behind Hybrid Theory, including a stop at the 2001 KROQ Weenie Roast, but never matched that album’s sales numbers in the post-Napster era. Its sophomore album Meteora was an out-of-the-box smash in 2003, though, debuting at No. 1 in more than a dozen countries including the U.S. and UK. Hit singles lifted from the record include “Faint,” “Numb” and “From the Inside” — all of which topped the modern and/or mainstream rock charts. The band headlined the 2003 Projekt Revolution jaunt that also featured Korn, Snoop Dogg and others. It was preceded by a warmup tour of theaters that wrapped with a pair of shows at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, at which Pennington and the band paired a longtimer’s skill with a newcomer’s exuberance.
“KROQ, Chester and Linkin Park have been together since day 1, and our long history extends beyond the music,” Kevin Weatherly, SVP Programming at CBS Radio and KROQ program director. “Chester and Linkin Park headlined many of our shows over the years, entertaining audiences and pushing the boundaries of music along the way. We are without words to describe how terribly saddened we are today.”
In 2005, “Numb” earned Linkin Park its second Grammy, for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The group has scored a half-dozen career noms, most recently Best Hard Rock Performance for “What I’ve Done” in 2009. Linkin Park also has won 10 MTV Video Music Awards and many others at international VMA ceremonies.
Four of the group’s next five studio albums since — 2007’s Minutes to Midnight, 2010’s A Thousand Suns, 2012’s Living Things and its May release One More Light — all debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with 2014’s The Hunting Party peaking at No. 3. All told, Linkin Park has amassed a dozen No. 1 rock singles. It has remained with Warner Bros throughout its career.
Bennington formed the side project Dead by Sunrise in 2005, which was active for about a half-decade, and was recruited in 2013 to replace Scott Weiland fronting fellow SoCal rock act Stone Temple Pilots. He held that gig until 2015, when the singer left to focus again on Linkin Park, less than a month before Weiland’s death.
Bennington also had a few acting credits, most recently as an ill-fated skinhead in 2010’s Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.