I wrote and recorded a song for Chester. He touched so many lives through music, and inspired me to get into music to get through my own struggles. I might not be here today without this man and this band, so this is my way of saying thanks and you will be missed.
When I last saw Linkin Park in concert, I was in a very bad place. I was struggling with severe depression and substance abuse. I had dropped out of school and was too messed up to work. I had run many of my friends off and was running out of options for help. I managed to get a ticket and make it down to Houston to see the 2007 Projekt Revolution tour, hoping it might cheer me up to see my favorite band in concert and promising my family I’d look at a hospital in the city that was supposed to be one of the best.
I’ll never forget that night when “Breaking the Habit” came on. The performance that Chester gave of that song was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. I completely broke down right there in the middle of the concert. I realized that I couldn’t keep going the way I was going and that it was time to get serious about helping myself. Every song became so intimate and special and brought me back to the reasons that I connected with Linkin Park’s music in the first place. I had just spent half of the warm up bands’ shows passed out drunk in the field in the arena, and was only sober enough to remember LP’s show because I had been there all day and was too young to buy more booze. I didn’t want to do that any more.
2 days later I checked myself in to the hospital. This was back when they were giving you a recording of the concert you went to when you bought tickets, and I got someone to bring me that recording on a cd. I listened to it every day almost non stop.
I didn’t go home for the better part of 6 months. When I finally made it home, I rocked out to Linkin Park all the time. I was in so much pain at the time but I channeled it into music. I saved up living on $40 a week and went out and bought a crappy guitar. I bought the guitar tab book for Minutes to Midnight and sat there trying over and and over until I could play every song, with no lessons or anything. I studied the way the songs worked and the way the music sounded, and began to write my own stuff. It was this that finally started me on the path to get back on my feet.
After years of struggling with severe issues that rendered me barely able to function at all, I was able to take a music class and successfully complete a college course again. I applied all the things I learned and kept going, eventually taking all the music theory classes I could get ahold of on my way to completing my degree in engineering. Getting back to college helped me get back on my feet and reconnect with people and develop a flourishing social circle. I had relationships and friendships and something to work for and relearned what it was like to be happy with myself for the first time in half a decade.
That being said, this is a huge loss to me. Chester screamed his head off so I didn’t always have to. Linkin Park put words to things and provided an outlet for feelings that I just didn’t know how to deal with. Their music got me to make my own, and that led to me putting my life back together. I don’t know if I’d be here or not without that. I certainly wouldn’t be in the same place. Chester lost a battle with a disease that is no less potent than cancer or a heart attack. It’s something that affects so many people, and the loss has saddened people across the world.
The only thing way I know how to respond is to write a song, as Linkin Park ish as I can sound, as a small way of saying thanks for everything. Here is that song.
If you know a friend or love one that struggles with depression, PLEASE reach out. They need you right now.