Linkin Park has been a part of my life since elementary school, standing as one of my favorite childhood bands. As I got older, I continued to listen to and enjoy their new albums, excited that such an amazing group from the 2000s was still creating music. Though Linkin Park rapper/singer Mike Shinoda has tons of skill, it is singer Chester Bennington’s voice that pulls me in every time and never lets go. His intensity through his passionate vocals and screams is difficult to mimic.

Chester’s talent was so extraordinary that hearing his voice never failed to bring chills down my spine and goose bumps to my arms. Unfortunately, I can no longer say, “his talent is so extraordinary.” Last week, Chester Bennington, 41, was found dead of an apparent suicide, marking an incredibly sad day for Chester’s family and friends, Linkin Park fans and the music community as a whole. His death fell on Chris Cornell’s birthday, who was a close friend of Chester’s. Chris was the former frontman of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog and killed himself May 18. His death took a big toll on me, so it’s difficult to imagine how Chester felt at the loss of his friend. In the span of three months, I have lost two musicians that I love, and I cannot wrap my head around Chester’s shocking death.

Chester and Linkin Park helped shape my childhood and the music that I listen to. My sister introduced me to them when I was in elementary school, and I have loved them ever since, regardless of my dislike for their newest album One More Light. Despite this, their music overall is simply phenomenal – the energy, the lyrics, the sound have kept Linkin Park relevant for nearly two decades, which is not an easy feat. Chester’s ability to go from his beautifully haunting and impactful singing voice in songs such as “Leave Out All the Rest” and “From the Inside” to his powerful and often lengthy screams in songs like “One Step Closer” and “Given Up” goes unrivaled by nearly every other artist I know.

When I heard the news and began to process the fact that Chester was gone, one Linkin Park memory from elementary school continuously replayed in my mind. I remember sitting on the floor in the basement-like room of my house and playing with two Fisher Price dolls while listening to my sister’s old pink iPod nano. I vividly recall listening to the song “Points of Authority” off Linkin Park’s first album Hybrid Theory. The chorus has Chester’s vocals overlapping one another, so I had the first doll sing one part and then the second doll sing the other, while I attempted to sing both parts with them. For a couple hours, I repeated this, occasionally adding the song “Runaway” into the mix. Both songs stand as two of my favorite Linkin Park songs.

Losing Chester on Chris’s birthday made his death even sadder for me because Chris’s death deeply affected me for quite some time. Chris helps represent my favorite time period in music, ’90s Seattle Rock (most musicians of the time dislike the term grunge). Seeing Temple of the Dog live about a year before Chris’s death was one of the highlights of my life, and hearing Chris perform his song “Seasons” in person was life-changing. I even stopped by his grave in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles and I could not hold back my tears during that visit. Regardless of my love for Chris, Temple of the Dog, and Soundgarden, I only began listening to him and his bands around senior year of high school. Chester’s death was harder to swallow — with him, a little bit of my childhood died. The tears were heavier.  

Chester and Linkin Park’s legacy and impact on the direction of nu-metal/rock in the early 2000s and onward are monumental. Linkin Park paved the way for other artists to rise in fame and popularity; Chester helped make nu-metal/rock a 2000s-kid staple and pushed rock into the mainstream of the decade. Even people who do not actively listen to rock music probably know at least three Linkin Park songs, which is an impressive accomplishment and something that just does not happen nowadays considering rap and pop’s grip on mainstream culture

I know that I am not alone in these thoughts. Chester was an incredible musician and person who helped so many of his fans build their self-esteem, showing them that being different is something to celebrate. It is heartbreaking that someone who brightened millions of people’s lives is no longer around, yet his work will continue to bring and spread joy.

Without a doubt, Linkin Park was one of the best live bands in rock music. During the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I was lucky enough to see their tour with Thirty Seconds to Mars. Thirty Seconds to Mars was good, but as soon as Linkin Park took the stage the energy changed and the crowd revitalized. To this day, Linkin Park’s concert is one of the greatest I have ever been to, easily placing in the top five. Chester’s voice live was so perfect that it blew my mind away, making him one of the best live singers in rock music history. Even his screams were flawless and powerful; in the song “Given Up,” there is a scream that lasts approximately 20 seconds long in the studio, and Chester’s live scream was even longer and stronger. My sister and I lost our minds during this stellar performance and still rave about it today.

Both Chester and Chris were the voices of a generation, and I am so happy that I was able to witness their legendary talent live before their untimely passings. Even though it will be difficult at times to accept that they are gone, I will always cherish and listen to their music even in my old age. As they have been for years, Linkin Park will always be my go-to workout and pump-up band – soccer and life would not have been the same without them.  

Chester Bennington and Linkin Park have been in my life longer than my 10-year-old dog has, and it breaks my heart that I will never see Linkin Park in concert again or hear new material. I really wanted them to redeem themselves after One More Light, but Chester and Linkin Park’s legacy has more than made up for one album that I deem unfavorable. All that I hope is that Chester and Chris have finally found peace and are together at last.

To Chris, thank you for generating some of the best music in history. Without a doubt, “no one sings like you anymore.”   

And to Chester, thank you for making my childhood so much better and creating music that I have carried with me into my college years. I will definitely miss you and your beautiful voice forever.