Sometimes people may have trouble pinpointing when they first connected with their favorite band/artist/singer. For me, I can remember the exact moment. It was 2000. I was an intern for a Top 40 station in Springfield, Missouri. I wasn’t even old enough to drink (probably means I wasn’t old enough to get in). This particular night, I ended up helping out our sister rock station at this tiny hole in the wall music place. It was called the Juke Joint. It held 650 people (I just googled it to make sure I had that number right). The headliner of the show that night was Kottonmouth Kings. The band opening was this new, unheard of band named Linkin Park.
As I’m hanging banners hours before the show, I start talking to a guy pushing gear next to the stage. He introduced himself as Brad from the band Linkin Park. He told me they were going to be big some day. My thought was (as I stared at the big case he was pushing with a stamp that said “Linkin Park” on it) how are you going to be big when you don’t even know how to spell “Lincoln”? Long story short, I hung around and decided to check out this new band. Within the first five minutes, I was hooked. These guys were up there screaming, yelling, singing while combining alt rock and hip hop (two genres that I love). I had never heard anything like it. This was for me. Hooked.
Shortly after, “One Step Closer” broke. The “Hybrid Thoery” album blew up and ended up becoming one of the biggest (if not the biggest) indie alt records of all time and they became a household name. They were playing amphitheaters within a year. “In The End” became one of the most played songs in the 2000’s on POP RADIO. WTF????
Over time, I bounced around different radio markets (Tulsa, Charlotte and then Seattle). I had managed to see LP multiple times including the tour they did with Snoop and Korn. It didn’t make sense, especially back then. Snoop Dogg and Korn with Linkin Park on the same tour??? It worked. It was great. That show in North Carolina was one my favorite shows I’ve ever seen.
I saw them a few times after that, even attended a couple of meet and greets. Caught a record label event that Warner Brothers invited me to in South Florida to kick off that particular tour. My flight was delayed and I missed the picture with the band opportunity for my Facebook. (Thanks, United). I had interviewed all of them at various times (thanks to all my program directors who I hounded any time they came through), but never Chester.
He ended up having a side project called Dead By Sunrise. This was maybe 2009ish and I was working for a pop station in Seattle. Dead By Sunrise was doing a promo run at rock/alternative radio. My station wasn’t that. After calling the label and begging, they brought them by the Katy Perry playing station and I got to do the interview. It was probably the worst interview I’ve ever done. I interview people all the time, but now this was the lead singer of my favorite band. I stumbled through words (something I do most of the time anyway) and got through. Chester was gracious and thanking ME for MY time with the help promoting the record. No, Chester. Thank YOU.
As time went on, one of my favorite times of every year and a half was when they dropped a new album. I would beg the label to not forget to get me an advance. I would end up buying it anyway cause I felt guilty not paying for it. Even got my wife hooked on them. She still can’t get over the fact that Chester could scream as hard as he can followed by some of the most incredible melodic singing you have ever heard.
Managed to see them a few more times…. Seattle, Los Angeles and even moved some things around on a Europe trip to see them in Rome. We were there for 19 hours. Long enough to see the show and eat (and a throw a bunch of drinks into our heads). Didn’t realize that would be the last.
They were going to play Tinley this year. My wife and I had even circled Japan in the beginning of November. Ed Sheeran is playing Tokyo the same weekend as LP (she LOVES Ed). Sadly, that tour is never going to happen.
Suicide and depression is a very real thing. I’ve personally never lost anyone to suicide, but this year with Chris Cornell and now Chester… it really feels that we all have. It shows that depression does not discriminate based on social status, wealth, popularity, race, gender, etc. But, there is always someone that will listen….
SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE …. 1-800-273-8255
Chester was close with Chris Cornell. He penned a letter to him after he died and did a great tribute on Kimmel. Today would’ve been Chris’ 53rd birthday.
One thing should be noted, Linkin Park never stopped doing radio interviews. They never stopped doing fan meet and greets. Every tour, every show, every album… they were available. It’s part of the reason they kept having success and as a person that has spent his entire late teens and adult life in radio, it’s rare and appreciated.
For me, for us, the loss of Chester means there is a lot of great music that we will never hear in the future. A lot of shows we will never get to see. For his six kids, it means they lost a father. It’s a soul crushing day in the music world. I will sip a glass of scotch and listen to “Meteora” tonight, I do believe. Rest easy, Chester.