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Friends Remember the Highs and Lows of Chester Bennington’s Last Days

Rich Fury, Getty Images
Rich Fury, Getty Images

Friends and band mates of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington have continued to grapple with his death after he took his own life two weeks ago. Many of them have recalled Bennington’s behavior in the days leading up to it, which to some seemed among his best and brightest. A week later, Linkin Park would have hit the road for a North American tour.

Bennington had been on vacation in Arizona with his wife, Talinda, and children, but returned home early saying he had to work, according to Rolling Stone. It was there, alone in his California home, that the recovering addict allegedly began drinking again and ultimately hung himself.

His friends recalled him being in remarkably good shape, physically and mentally, and reached a new creative apex. “We saw the most alive and present Chester of my 15-and-a-half-year history with the band,” said Jim Digby, Linkin Park’s touring director, of Bennington on the band’s European tour in June and July. “He was arguably in the best physical condition of his life.”

Linkin Park’s latest album One More Light was well-received when it was released in May, and they were preparing for their tour. He had also tweeted at the time that he was “feeling very creative” and had written a bunch of new songs. To top it off, he was planning a reunion with his old grunge band Grey Daze, and trying to get together with his all-star cover band Kings of Chaos as well. Following the funeral of his close friend and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in May, he told a friend, “We have to stick together, and we have so much to live for.” And just days before his death, Robert DeLeo, his former bandmate from Stone Temple Pilots, which he fronted when Scott Weiland left the band, described texts with him that were “loving, positive, looking-forward-to-the-future, growing-old kinds of things.”

But songs from the album like “Heavy,” which was released in February, showed a different side in its lyrics: “I don’t like my mind right now / Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary / Wish that I could slow things down.” Explaining the roots of the song in an interview with iHeartRadio’s 102.7 KIIS-FM, Bennington said, “I know that for me, 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. I can’t be in there by myself. It’s insane! It’s crazy in here. This is a bad place for me to be by myself. And so when I’m in that, my whole life gets thrown off. If I’m in there, I don’t say nice things to myself. There’s another Chester in there that wants to take me down. And I find that, it could be… whether it’s substances or whether it’s behavior or whether it’s depressive stuff, or whatever it is, if I’m not actively doing… getting out of myself and being with other people, like being a dad, being a husband, being a bandmate, being a friend, helping someone out… If I’m out of myself, I’m great. If I’m inside all the time, I’m horrible — I’m a mess.”

His bandmate Mike Shinoda, who cowrote “Heavy,” told Billboard the circumstances of the song. “I remember Chester walked in and it was, ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, I’m fine,’ and we were hanging out for a minutes and he was, like, ‘Y’know what? I have to be honest. I’m not fine. I’m not okay. Too much stuff is just happening to me. I just feel underwater.’

“It was like that saying ‘when it rains, it pours.’ It’s that kind of feeling that stuff is piling up one on top of the other, and it creates this feeling of just being overwhelmed, like, ‘Things feel so heavy to me…'”

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