Fans were still grieving this morning (Thursday, July 20) over the death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell — who died of an apparent suicide by hanging on May 18, and would have celebrated his 53rd birthday today — when news broke of yet another shocking loss to the rock community: the tragic passing of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, at age 41.
According to various reports, Bennington’s death is also being investigated as a suicide by hanging. It is unclear if Bennington, who had battled addiction and depression and was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, might have been triggered by the birthday of his good friend Cornell.
This eerie timing only makes Linkin Park’s recent Jimmy Kimmel Live! performance, taped the day after Cornell’s death, all the more poignant and unsettling. Playing the outdoor Kimmel stage on May 19, Bennington dedicated “One More Light,” the somber title track off Linkin Park’s latest and seventh studio album — which had just come out that day — to their late comrade.
“We were going to come out and play ‘Heavy’ first, but in light of our dear friend Chris Cornell passing away, we decided to play our song ‘One More Light’ in honor of him to start this off. We love you, Chris,” announced Bennington.
“If they say / Who cares if one more light goes out? / In a sky of a million stars / It flickers, flickers / Who cares when someone’s time runs out? / If a moment is all we are / We’re quicker, quicker / Who cares if one more light goes out? / Well I do,” Bennington then sang.
Chester was one of the kindest men I've had on my show. My heart breaks for his family and friends. He will be missed terribly.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 20, 2017
Bennington and Cornell were close for many years. The two had toured together and joined each other onstage, and Bennington even performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s private Los Angeles funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on May 26.
— Linkin Park Live (@LPLive) May 26, 2017
Upon hearing the horrible news of Cornell’s death, the night before Linkin Park’s Kimmel tribute, Bennington posted a heart-wrenching open letter to Cornell, writing:
“I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with [Beatles song] ‘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 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. Send me love to your wife and children, friends, and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.”
— Chester Bennington (@ChesterBe) May 18, 2017
Bennington is survived by his wife, Talinda Ann Bentley, and his six children.