- Ben Province
If Linkin Park Continues, this St. Louisan Should be Added
The one-year anniversary of Chester Bennington's death was met with a heartfelt tribute, written by his surviving bandmates and posted on Twitter. On July 20, 2017, the Linkin Park singer tragically took his own life at the age of 41. He was, along with Mike Shinoda, one of the voices associated with a band that sold more than 70 million albums worldwide.
While Shinoda, Linkin Park’s rapper and guitarist, also sang in the band, it was Bennington’s power-house, pain-filled voice that ultimately gave the band its identity.
Following his death, the band canceled its remaining tour dates. And on Oct. 3, 2017, the remaining members performed alongside special guests, such as Blink-182, members of No Doubt, Korn and Yellowcard, to honor their late friend.
While other bands’ lead singers temporarily filled in for Bennington at the tribute concert, it was unclear if Linkin Park would go on with someone else as a permanent lead singer.
Months later, this Jan., Shinoda took to Twitter to answer a fan’s question regarding the future of the band.
"I have every intention of continuing with LP, and the guys feel the same. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, and questions to answer, so it'll take time," he said in a tweet.
This month, in an interview with NME, Shinoda, who released his first solo album, "Post Traumatic," in June, commented further about Linkin Park's future: "I don't really know where it's gonna go," he said. "I'm basically trying to keep everything really open."
The difficult emotions Shinoda and the band have faced since that shocking day last summer are unimaginable, but they would be far from the first band to replace its deceased lead singer.
Most notably, Brian Johnson replaced the late Bon Scott in AC/DC in 1980. More recently, following the 2017 passing of the Eagles' Glen Frey, the band added Deacon Frey (his son) and Vince Gill to their touring lineup.
And if anyone is fit to take over for Bennington, it’s St. Louisan Ryan Cheney (pictured, courtesy of MoneyShotz Photography). The former Fivefold singer and current Steeples
frontman has been clearly influenced by Bennington.
"The lyrical content that they displayed was, quite frankly, something I'd never heard before," Cheney said in an email. "I felt they were extremely mature and held themselves to a higher standard, as far as what they were writing about."
Fivefold’s “Hold On” is, perhaps, the best evidence of that influence. Cheney's soaring vocal could easily lead anyone to mistake the Fivefold track as a Linkin Park song.
While in Fivefold, Cheney and bandmates aimed to make a difference in the lives of their fans, something Bennington would have been proud of. He says he relates to the late Linkin Park frontman -- beyond the vocal similarities.
"We probably faced the same battles, mentally, physically and emotionally. There is a certain weight put on lead singers these days, and sometimes it weighs very [heavily] on me. I can only believe Chester felt the same way."
It remains uncertain if Linkin Park will ever record or perform live again, but if they decide they will move forward with the band, they have a rising star waiting for them in St. Louis.
Update: In a Jan. 2019 interview with Rock Antenne's Whole Lotta Talk, Shinoda did not shut down the idea that Linkin Park could continue with a new lead singer, but it's not his focus right now.
“I think it has to happen naturally. And if we find somebody that’s a great person, and that we think is a good personality fit and a good stylistic fit, I could see trying to do some stuff with somebody. Not for the sake of like, replacing," as transcribed by Alternative Press. "I wouldn’t ever wanna feel like we are replacing Chester."