Today, July 20, marks five years since the passing of legendary frontman Chester Bennington. Bennington left behind a legacy of music that will live on forever, from his earliest work with Grey Daze to his stratospheric success with Linkin Park. He left a mark on so many of us, with an immeasurable impact that can never be stopped.
Chester also taught us a lot of lessons, sparking new conversations and action around mental health. His untimely passing in 2017 was the reason we started Audacy’s year-round I’m Listening initiative, to help end the stigma of talking about mental health, and to help connect people to the resources they need.
We’ve gotten a chance to speak to several of Chester Bennington’s closest collaborators in the years since, and they all share stories about the passion and power of the singer, and the importance of making him proud.
“Mental health, it’s not a state of being. Think about it like a scale of, how are you doing right now?” Shinoda explains. “Mental health is all about being aware of how am I doing today. Like if you say, ‘on a scale of one to ten, how healthy are you?’ And that’s your state of mind. You don’t ever want to dip below a certain level.”
Shinoda encourages all of us to check in with ourselves, and to be open with others. “That’s the thing I hope people do more often, is be open about their communication about it, and say, ‘hey I’d love to talk to you about that thing but I’m having a really bad day and here’s why.’ Because the more you talk about that stuff, the more open you are about the things that are going on, the less scary they are.”
We also spoke with the members of Grey Daze, Bennington’s teenage band filled with longtime friends. The group released their album Amends in 2020, filled with original vocal tracks from Chester before he passed.
“We took all the music away, we kept the vocal track and the lyrics that was there - that was all Chester,” drummer Sean Dowdell shared in the video above.
Even at the age of 15 when the band first got together, Chester was an amazing talent. Dowdell and Bennington were business partners and bandmates, and Sean saw some of Chester was carrying. “We had many conversations when he was alive, he just really wanted to be loved,” explained Dowdell. “I don’t think he ever really fully understood how much people loved him.”
The album is another way to honor and remember Chester, a way for the band to give back and once again, make him proud. “Throughout this entire process I’ve kind of been revisiting this idea of gratitude and finding thankfulness and overall gratitude for having someone like Chester in my life in the first place,” said Dowdell. “It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘why is he gone’ and feel sorry for yourself and feel sad, but the cure for that is gratitude. It’s gotten me through this entire process and given me drive.”
Audacy’s I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.