Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell were good friends who’d toured and performed together. But on Thursday their association became tragic as Bennington apparently committed suicide on Cornell’s birthday, not even two months after the Soundgarden singer’s self-inflicted death.
In a Radio.com interview with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Bred Delson just days after Cornell’s death, Shinoda talked about how powerfully the loss had affected Bennington, who sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at his friend’s funeral and wrote a tribute to him on the day after Cornell’s death.
“We were booked to play the show so that we could promote our new single ‘Heavy’ and then we heard the news about Chris Cornell and had had a little pow-wow in the dressing room before we went on and we said, ya know, the things that good for the band to do is play ‘Heavy,’ but the right thing to do is play ‘One More Light’ because it’s about the loss of a friend,’ Shinoda said.
“When we were doing a sound check Chester couldn’t even make it through the song, he was getting halfway through and getting choked up. And even when we did play the whole song, and it was live on TV, or taped for film for TV, he kind of just stopped like towards the end like he missed the last couple lines, just couldn’t finish the song,” he continued.
“Fans were crying in the audience, and I think it was cathartic, I think it was good,” he concluded. “The message of the song is when you are dealing with something so deep as losing a friend, or in this case somebody you just admire, somebody you look up to when we’re talking about some of these fans in the audience… one of the things I think you can do is reach out to people and offer them community, let them know we’re a family, we’re community, we care about each other. Whether a friend who lost somebody, a family member or whatever, to reach out and let them know even that you’re thinking about them, sometimes that’s enough.”
Linkin Park has largely followed that practice in the hours since news of Bennington’s death, with Shinoda sending a brief tweet confirming the news and the band’s account tweeting out a photo of their singer onstage, surrounded by the lights from fans’ phones.