By Hayden Wright
The death of Chester Bennington at age 41 has inspired a myriad of tributes from around the rock world. Don Gilmore, who produced Linkin Park’s debut Hybrid Theory and sophomore record Meterora, spoke to Billboard about Bennington’s music and legacy. Gilmore remembered meeting Bennington in a studio before he officially joined Linkin Park.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my god, this is really special,'” Gilmore recalled. “I’d never really heard somebody sing that incredibly just in a little crappy rehearsal room. He wasn’t really singing like that on the demos, and I just felt like, if he can sing like this in the studio, then we might have a chance of doing something.”
Gilmore added that Linkin Park might have sounded totally different had they not selected Bennington as their singer.
“Not to take anything away from the guys or anything, but they might have been looking for a different kind of singer. Then they found this guy from Arizona, and he could go into the rock world in such a way that maybe wasn’t exactly their cup of tea,” Gilmore said. “I think that they wanted to be more like Incubus or something like that, but once Chester got his voice down on tape it was so undeniable, I was just like, ‘You guys, people are going to freak out over this. This guy, there’s nothing like this.’ It was pretty obvious. I don’t think I had to sell them very hard on it, and Chester loved to sing like that.”
The producer also observed an eerie coincidence between Bennington and Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who also took his own life in 2017.
“I’ve maybe had four or five times in the studio that I got goose bumps, literally like shivers, and one of them was with Chester, for sure,” Gilmore said. “And oddly enough, one of them is Chris Cornell, when I recorded Chris on the Temple of the Dog record.”