Mike Shinoda: Chester Bennington Is in the Same Category as James Hetfield + Freddie Mercury
There's a difference between a singer and a frontman. A frontman goes beyond just being a talented vocalist, capable of working the crowd in a live setting and establishing an onstage persona that helps define a band. Linkin Park's frontman duties were split between Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda and the latter understands he was working alongside one of the best, having put him in the same category as other giants like Metallica's James Hetfield and Queen legend Freddie Mercury.
“It was funny, because he was the kind of guy that when you would compliment his voice, especially early on, he would look away. He would deny it or he would make a self-deprecating comment," said Shinoda (to Kerrang! via NME) about Bennington's humility concerning his talents. "While one part of him really enjoyed being the center of attention, another part of him ran away."
“That was part of the beauty of Chester," Shinoda reflected. He also touched on another instance where Bennington shied away from personal accolades, continuing, "And he was inspired by a wide range of singers at different points in his life, people like [Depeche Mode's] Dave Gahan, James Hetfield and Freddie Mercury. I would occasionally remind him that he was in that category, but he never agreed with me. He never acknowledged that he was."
While Linkin Park's co-frontman knew what the band had in Bennington, he acknowledged that their peers seem to share this sentiment. "But in the past few months, dozens of artists have reached out publicly and privately to let us know what an inspiration Chester and the band have been," added Shinoda. "We’re just so very grateful.”
It's certain that Shinoda and the rest of his Linkin Park bandmates fully realized the impact Bennington had made on the world when the band stepped onstage for their first performance since Chester took his own life over the summer. Their 31 song set was aided with the help of a wealth of fellow rockers, including members of Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Blink-182, System of a Down and so many more. The night also saw Shinoda take the spotlight, debuting a new song, "Looking for an Answer," which he emotionally performed alone.
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