Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He was best known as the lead vocalist for Linkin Park and was also lead vocalist for the bands Grey Daze, Dead by Sunrise and, between 2013 and 2015, Stone Temple Pilots. Bennington has been credited by several publications as one of the greatest rock vocalists of his generation.
Bennington first gained prominence as a vocalist following the release of Linkin Park's debut album Hybrid Theory (2000), which was a worldwide commercial success. The album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2005, making it the best-selling debut album of the decade, as well as one of the few albums ever to achieve that many sales. Linkin Park's following studio albums, from Meteora (2003) to One More Light (2017), continued the band's success.
Bennington formed his own band, Dead by Sunrise, as a side project in 2005. The band's debut album, Out of Ashes, was released on October 13, 2009. He became the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots in 2013 to release the extended play record High Rise on October 8, 2013, via their own record label, Play Pen, but left in 2015 to focus solely on Linkin Park. As an actor, he appeared in films such as Crank (2006), Crank: High Voltage (2009), and Saw 3D (2010).
On July 20, 2017, Bennington was found dead at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California; his death was ruled a suicide by hanging. Hit Parader magazine placed Bennington number 46 on their list of the "100 Metal Vocalists of All Time". Writing for Billboard, Dan Weiss stated that Bennington "turned nu metal universal".
Bennington possessed a three octave tenor vocal range, beginning at the low bass G (G2), and reaching its peak at the tenor G (G5). His vocals showed tremendous durability for the entirety of his career. Altheapi of Rolling Stone wrote: "Bennington's voice embodied the anguish and wide-ranging emotions of the lyrics, from capturing life's vulnerable moments to the fury and catharsis found in his belted screams, which he would often move between at the turn of a dime."
Talking about his favorite bands and influences, Bennington mentioned Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Arcade Fire, Circle Jerks, Descendents, Deftones, Jane's Addiction, Metallica, Ministry, Minor Threat, Misfits, The Naked and Famous, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Refused, Skinny Puppy, Soundgarden, and A Tribe Called Quest. Bennington also considered himself as "a huge Madonna fan", crediting her for making him grow up wanting to be a musician.
After Bennington's death, his widow Talinda Bennington launched a campaign called 320 Changes Direction in honor of her husband to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness.