Chester Bennington Memorial Mural Stops Traffic on L.A.’s 101 Freeway

While friends and family of Chester Bennington gathered last weekend in Palos Verdes, Calif., to honor the memory of the late Linkin Park vocalist, a different kind of personal tribute went up on a 20-foot wall in back of a newly opened Sherman Oaks pizzeria bordering the 101 freeway.

Local muralist Jonas Never, a former college baseball player-turned-artist, spent two days with spray cans and house paint, creating his tribute to the rocker that now looms just past the Coldwater Canyon exit, adorning the side of Rock’n Pies Pizza Co. on Riverside Drive.

“I grew up listening to [Chester],” says the 35-year-old Venice, Calif., native, whose influences include the graffiti art and decks of Dogtown, Bulldog Skates, and the Seventh Letter collective that, in turn, had a profound effect on Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. “I used to take the pitching mound to the sound of ‘One Step Closer’ (off of debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’).”

The pizza joint is one of two recently opened by Boston native Jim Conners – the other is on Wilshire Blvd. between Lincoln Blvd. and 14th Street in Santa Monica — who came to Los Angeles in 1995 for film, but ended up in the restaurant business.

Never created a number of indoor murals for the Santa Monica location, including one of Guns N’ Roses based on an image that adorns the side of Canter’s Deli, except the members are downing slices instead of pastrami. There are also wall renderings of Kurt Cobain eating pizza and the Beastie Boys standing in front of a local pizzeria.

“I’d been seeing that big blank wall from the 101 and thought it would be good for something,” says Never, who also created the Dave Grohl mural which adorns the eatery’s front. “When I heard Chester died, I immediately thought of that wall because I knew some of the band members lived in the Valley. I just texted Jim and offered to do it for free because it was the right thing to do.”

The looming portrait of Bennington shows him at peace, rather than the intense, animated figure he was on-stage.

“I stumbled across this publicity still of him, smiling, very recognizable, with all his tattoos visible,” Never explains. “I thought it would be better than having him up there screaming.”

Never compares his mix of street culture, fine art, and 1950s advertisements to Linkin Park’s musical hybrid. His goal for his series of memorial murals is to create a site-specific tribute for community icons – his work includes pieces for Elliott Smith in Silver Lake, Tupac Shakur in South Central, and Sublime in Long Beach.

As someone whose subjects include “music, movies, and sports,” Never’s work includes a Stuart Scott “Boo Ya” mural adorning the Melody Bar and Grill on Sepulveda Blvd. by LAX; a Lonzo Ball piece on Spectrum’s El Segundo offices opposite the Lakers’ training facilities; and a Brandon Ingram work donated to the Covenant House shelter for homeless youth in East Hollywood, which was part of Delta Airlines’ “Beyond the Court” campaign. Perhaps his most visible piece is his sprawling “Touch of Venice” mural on Windward Avenue by the boardwalk.

As for Rock’n Pies owner Conners, he is already reaping the benefits of Never’s work, even before this Thursday’s official opening.

“I was leaving the kitchen last night at 11:30, and I was greeted by flashing lights, people taking pictures,” Conners tells Variety. “When Jonas was working on it, everyone in their cars on the 101 were beeping their horns and cheering him on. It was pretty cool. Now there’s something to look at while you’re stuck in traffic.”

And while he’s been a successful artist for a little more than a decade, Never still finds it hard to believe, which explains why he hasn’t branched into T-shirts and design (with the exception of a Boo-Ya sneaker/NVR Shoes hook-up, donating a portion of proceeds to the Stuart Scott Foundation for cancer research). “It doesn’t feel real to me, which is why I haven’t taken the time to capitalize on it. I’m still too busy doing murals and canvasses.”

To see a portfolio of Never’s work, go to www.cult-classics.com. His Instagram tag is @never1959, named after the 1959 Edsel he bought after “making some money from my art.”

Elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley, Warner Bros. Records in Burbank has turned its front facade into a Bennington memorial. Linkin Park is signed to the label and has released seven studio albums since 2000’s “Hybrid Theory.”

Chester Bennington
Chester Bennington memorial at Warner Bros. Records in Burbank. (Photo: Jem Aswad)

More Music

  • Harry Connick Jr.

    Harry Connick Jr. Swears Off Super Bowl After Saints Defeat

    Tempers flared during today’s NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams at the Super Dome after a controversial non-call on a potential pass interference penalty and head-to-head hit by L.A. defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman, who slammed into Saints pass receiver  Tommylee Lewis on a crucial third-down play. The ref’s decision [...]

  • Editorial use only. No merchandising.Mandatory Credit:

    Lady Gaga Slams Government Shutdown, Mike Pence at Vegas Residency

    Lady Gaga took a short break from singing “Million Reasons” at her Saturday performance of “Enigma” in Las Vegas to slam the president for the continued government shutdown. While sitting at the piano for her performance, Gaga broke into a takedown of the government shutdown and Vice President Mike Pence, who has been in the [...]

  • maggie rogers

    Album Review: Maggie Rogers' 'Heard It in a Past Life'

    Maggie Rogers earned one of those very rare “Saturday Night Live” slots in which a musical guest is booked onto the show well in advance of her major label debut album’s release — two and a half months prior, in this case. And the scrutiny of such an appearance is not always pretty. Rogers’ “SNL” [...]

  • iHeartRadio Alter Ego Review

    Concert Review: Muse, Weezer, the Killers Rock iHeartRadio Alter Ego 2019

    iHeartRadio’s Alter Ego — a multi-band bill that serves to showcase some of the biggest names in alternative rock — is a relatively new creation, but clearly one that’s been embraced by radio listeners in the greater Los Angeles area who filled the Forum on a Saturday night. Twenty-One Pilots, the Revivalists, Rise Against, Bishop [...]


    Dax Shepard, Bobby Bones, 'Breakfast Club' Among iHeartRadio Podcast Awards Winners

    iHeartRadio launched its first ever Podcast Awards on Friday (January 18) in Los Angeles. Among the winners in 22 categories were “Whine Down with Jana Kramer” (Best Entertainment TV Podcast); “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Breakout Podcast); “Bobbycast” (Music Podcast); and “The Breakfast Club” (Best Multicultural Podcast). The winners were determined by iHeartRadio listeners. Taking the top prize of Podcast [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content