It was a Sunday night in my spiritual hometown of London where a then-friend and I attended a gig of a group we both shared an interest for. The group was Linkin Park and the venue was Wembley Arena. It was a special night as vast as the venue the gig felt intimate and we had somehow found ourselves at or near the front. It was great to see these guys play and be that close. It was to be the first of multiple times that we got to see Linkin Park play live in London, but it wasn’t the best. The best was yet to come. The best was where I was able to do something which has stayed with me for a considerable amount of time and I would imagine will stay with me now for life. I was able to meet Mike and Chester. It was brief, a pat on Mike’s back and a shake of Chester’s hand.
Fast-forward almost 17 years later and to awake to the news on the 20th July 2017 that Chester had died by hanging was simply devastating. I cannot say I knew Chester any better than any other fan but the hole that he leaves on this Earth and the desolation that flows through it seems to be of a very personal nature. It feels like a personal loss. Chester was in the end a victim of Mental Health and was killed by Depression. It is about time we all got a little more serious on Depression and fighting Mental Health issues before the fight comes for us.
Chester’s death has left a hole in Linkin Park, his wife, children and family of course, as well as the millions of LP fans across the globe. For the longest time afterwards I couldn’t look at a photograph of Chester, and it took almost two months before I could comfortably listen to his voice on a LP track. When I could I found myself hearing some of LP’s songs for the first time. There had been some over the years I had missed. But also I choose the word ‘hearing’ rather than ‘listening’ as there is a difference. I found myself hearing the pain in each lyric in some songs that were really old, and definitely in some of the newer tracks, particularly those on their latest “pop” album. It has taken some further time to be able to enjoy and remember the enjoyment gained from finding Linkin Park back in 2001 and remembering why I liked those first-album tracks in the first place.
The group for me has a long history. I can recall many memories and moments in my lifetime which have (in my mind) various LP songs attached to them. From Hybrid Theory “Points of Authority” and “By Myself” would be my favorite tracks. From Meteora it would be “Faint” & “Breaking The Habit”, both of which would feature in University short films. Minutes to Midnight was the start of a change of direction for Linkin Park and while the major change on this album was to be a move towards a heavier, darker sound, the tracks I favoured where the softer more melodic tracks such as “Leave out all the Rest” and “Shadow of the Day”, “Valentine’s Day” and “The little things you give away”.
The next three albums produced by the group somehow seem to have slipped me by as perhaps interests and motivations change over time. Their latest and Chester’s last studio album, One More Light was released in May 2017 and I had heard a lot of negative press about this album and I guess I believed it for the most part. Not having listened in a couple of years and being out of the loop of the current musical direction LP were heading towards. I shouldn’t have. I purchased One More Light (the first thing I have bought on a CD for years), on the 21st July 2017, the day after Chester’s death. I wanted to have the album but I knew I wouldn’t be able to listen to it. When I found I could listen to LP again I found that I had to start right back at the beginning and so I did. I listened to every track produced in album order. The older stuff I knew well and the newer stuff I had never heard before.
The progression of the group musically is vast and entertaining, and One More Light when I got to that was to me simply just progression from The Hunting Party. It was no more or less “pop” and it certainly didn’t feel misplaced in my view. One thing for me remained throughout the entire LP back catalogue was the evidence of suffering through the lyrics of the songs.
Chester was such a kind, considerate, generous, giving guy. There are not the right words that I can say to describe the lost I feel as simply a fan that he won’t be in this world anymore. I simply hope that wherever his spirit has ended up it has found peace and calmness away from the pain he was carrying.
Depression isn’t something you recover from. You can learn to co-exist alongside it, but it will come for you in the end. That is my view. I’ve seen strong evidence to support that theory. I’ve lived with Depression for around 15 years now. Sometimes it is strong and sometimes it is just a niggle in the background. But it is always there. Like a pain that simply won’t go away. You can manage it most of the time, but sometimes, when you most expect it, it will be there to smack you around the face.
#fuckdepression | #makechesterproud | #musicforrelief