LOS ANGELES (AP) – Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, whose screeching vocals helped the rock-rap band become one of the most commercially successful acts in the 2000s, was found dead in his home near Los Angeles on Thursday, the Los Angeles County coroner said. He was 41.
Coroner spokesman Brian Elias said authorities are investigating Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide at Palos Verdes Estates, but no additional details are available.
Band co-founder and producer Mike Shinoda said on Twitter he was “shocked and saddened.”
“Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma, and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family, his band-mates and his many friends,” Warner Bros. Records CEO and Chairman Cameron Stang said in a statement.
Linkin Park had released a new music video for their song “Talking to Myself” on Thursday. The band was preparing for their “One More Light” world tour, which was scheduled to make a stop in Lake Tahoe at the Harveys outdoor arena on September 1.
Fans and fellow musicians immediately expressed their grief and surprise at Bennington’s death on social media.
Bennington, along with other members of Linkin Park, performed “Hallelujah” at fellow musician Chris Cornell’s funeral back in May. Cornell had also committed suicide.
Bennington and Cornell were good friends. After word of Cornell’s death broke, Bennington shared a heartfelt open letter in remembrance of the Soundgarden singer:
I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing ‘ A day in the life ‘ by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.
With all of my love.
Cornell would have turned 53 on Thursday.
The Grammy Award-winning group sold more than 10 million copies of their 2000 debut, “Hybrid Theory,” which featured the megahit and anthem, “In the End.” They sold another 6 million with 2003’s multiplatinum “Meteora.” Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury.
The success helped Linkin Park become Billboard’s No. 1 act of the decade for rock songs and alternative songs.
Bennington’s voice could soar with piercing strength or descend to a whisper. Rolling Stone once called it a “shrapnel-laced howl that sounds like it comes from someone twice his size.”
The band also sold millions with its remix album, “Reanimation,” and its mash-up record with Jay-Z, “Collision Course.” They won Grammys for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling” and best rap/sung collaboration for “Numb/Encore” in 2005. Linkin Park was on tour and was next scheduled to perform next week in Massachusetts and New York.
Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life. He said he had been sexually abused as a child and was homeless for months before the band found fame.
Linkin Park released their most recent album, “One More Light,” in May. It was a CD that divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of moody pop. One song on the album, “Heavy,” opens with the words: “I don’t like my mind right now.”
Although the band had always experimented with different sounds, some claimed Linkin Park had sold out, which Bennington denied. “One More Light” became the band’s fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200.
“If you like the music, fantastic. If you don’t like it, that’s your opinion too. Fantastic. If you’re saying we’re doing what we’re doing for a commercial or monetary reason, trying to make success out of some formula. then stab yourself in the face!” Bennington told NME magazine.
Bennington was close friends with Chris Cornell, who died by hanging earlier this year, and performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the Soundgarden singer’s memorial in late May. He was the godfather of Cornell’s 11-year-old son, Chris. Cornell’s 53rd birthday would have been Thursday.
“The Cornell family is overwhelmed by the heartbreaking news about Chester Bennington which tragically comes so soon after their family’s own loss,” said a Cornell family spokesperson. “They open up their loving arms to Chester’s family and share in the sorrow with all those who loved him.”
When he got his big break in 1999, Bennington was an assistant at a digital-services firm in Phoenix. A music executive sent him a demo from the band Xero, which needed a lead singer. (He had been recommended by his attorney.) Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the band’s playing and sent the results back. He soon got the gig and the band then changed its named to Hybrid Theory, then Linkin Park.
Bennington told The Associated Press in 2010 that because of the sound the band is known for – fusing sounds from nu-metal, punk, rock, pop and hip-hop – it was virtually impossible to satisfy their many kinds of fans.
“We’re making music for us, that we like. We’re not making music for other people,” he said. “We’re not thinking, ‘Let’s make a pie-graph of all our fans and find out how many people fit in whatever category and then make the perfect album for them.’ Like, that would be absolutely ridiculous.”
Bennington was married to his second wife, Talinda, and is survived by six children.
AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu in New York contributed to this report. Kennedy also reported from New York.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.