They say true friends are never apart, but anyone who has ever lost a true friend knows that isn’t true.
On May 18, 2017 the world lost Chris Cornell, the singer of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave. On that same day, Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, lost one of his best friends. It seems odd that a pioneer of the grunge movement that defined the early 1990’s would end up being best friends with a man whose band captured the imaginations of the youth of the early 2000’s, but that’s how it went. In 2007, Chris Cornell was promoting his solo album ‘Scream’ and was tasked with opening up for Linkin Park on their North American tour. That’s where Chris and Chester met. On the tour, the two would discuss music, their families and children, and most importantly their demons. Both men had battled addiction problems for years and both men had battled depression. Anyone who has experienced depression or being controlled by their demons knows that only people who have been through those same battles are the only ones that can truly understand what they are going through. A bond was formed. Linkin Park would invite Cornell out to do their song ‘Crawling’ on the tour and Cornell would play Temple of the Dog’s ‘Hunger Strike’ and invite Bennington out to sing Eddie Vedder’s part. You can see that here…
The two grew so close that Chris asked Chester to be the godfather to his son Christopher Nicolas Cornell. Here he is at the baptism.
When Cornell passed away, Bennington posted this note:
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.
Linkin Park was set to perform on Jimmy Kimmel live the day that Cornell passed away. They were going to perform their new single, but instead opted to perform the emotional ballad ‘One More Light’ which you can see here. You can feel the emotion from Chester as he pours his heart out on stage.
Chester also performed at Chris Cornell’s private funeral in Los Angeles.
In the past, Chester spoke openly about his battles with depression. Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend from the age of 7-13. He was afraid to ask for help and the abuse affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill himself or run away. Those feelings came back into his life after his 2005 divorce. “The difficult part was losing all my money, starting my life over and having to pay the person I didn’t want to be around in the first place,” he told Kerrang in 2009. “I felt like my life’s work had been given away. I drank myself to the point where I couldn’t leave the house and I couldn’t function. I wanted to kill myself.”
What was once just words became reality today. On July 20, 2017, the date that would have been his good friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Chester Bennington ended his own life. He leaves behind a wife, six wonderful children and a legion of fans and friends. But his internal struggle that he battled with each and every day is over. As is the struggle that his friend Chris Cornell went through each and every day.
Mental illness is serious. Mental illness is real. Mental illness doesn’t go away. But neither does true friendship. Be there for your friends. If you see them going through tough times or battling with demons or mental illness, don’t ignore it. Be there. Every day. For as long as it takes. You may not understand what they are going through, and that’s ok. Do what you can to be open and understanding. Mental illness and depression are not a choice. They are terrible burdens that no one should have to go through, and certainly no one should have to go through them alone.
Thanks for reading.