The last time I saw Chester Bennington was in October 2016, when he played at a benefit for Rock To Recovery alongside his longtime friend Fred Durst. “I love Fred,” Bennington told me when we spoke about the night. The feeling was very much mutual.
Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit have had a deep connection since their mutual peaks in the early 2000s, and not just because they followed each other alphabetically in the CD bins. Both bands ushered in an era when the combination of rock and rap would take over the airwaves (and lead the way for the likes of Twenty One Pilots) and went on to sell tens of millions of albums combined. It was the music industry’s good days, but they weren’t always so for some musicians.
Just before taking the stage with Limp Bizkit in Hammond, Indiana on Friday night (July 21), a little over 24 hours after news broke of Chester Bennington’s suicide, Fred Durst shared a few memories of his longtime friend with Variety.
I’m sitting here with my brother Cory and we were talking about when Linkin Park played before us on their first ever show in Europe. They came in our dressing rooms and they were clearly both so excited and so shy. [Limp Bizkit guitarist] Wes [Borland], myself and my brother went and watched their show and doused them in champagne after their performance to congratulate them.
I remember seeing them on the side of the stage and as were performing, I was thinking to myself, “Chester’s voice is going to blow these kids the f— up.” It was a great moment and I’m happy now to have had it.
I can say so many wonderful things about the Chester I knew. He had a way of making anyone he spoke to feel heard, understood and significant. His aura and spirit were contagious and empowering. Often those types of people have so much pain and torture inside that the last thing they want is to contaminate or break the spirit of others.
He would go out of his way to make sure you knew he truly cares. As real and transparent as our conversations would be, he was always the one projecting light on the shadows. In my last conversation with him, he was holding his two cute puppies and giving me the most selfless and motivational compliments in regards to Limp Bizkit and myself and thanking me for paving the path for bands like Linkin Park.
In return, I told him if it weren’t for him and his voice and his words, this genre would never have reached the masses and affected so many lives. I thanked him for being so courageous and humble and for always being such a gentleman. We laughed and hugged and told jokes as if there would always be a tomorrow for us to meet again.
I want to hug him now and let him know that we all experience our own pain and deal with it our own ways. I know his torture is unique to him, but I would always be here to listen and help in any way I can. But I won’t get that hug and that moment now, which makes me so sad.