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Some of us are looking forward to Friday. Where I'm from, many schools are breaking up for the summer that day - it's a day to celebrate, to get excited, to dream up ideas for things to do to fill six sunny, carefree weeks. I should be one of those people. But as excited as I am to finish the school year, my mind will go somewhere else during the final assembly. More precisely, to thoughts of someone else. Someone who can't be with us anymore.
There will be plenty of us who won't be looking forward to Friday. Friday is the anniversary of the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, due to suicide at the age of 41. One whole year has passed without a father, a husband, a child, an idol. And in commemoration of this, I wanted to share with you the main thing I learned in the year since his passing. It is something many people have learned before me, and something many people will learn after me too, because every year, we lose people in the public eye and the same thing happens.
When a famous musician dies, they are everywhere. The press mostly, but also the charts, record shops, social media. Tributes for them are everywhere, but not just the written kind. Their music appears everywhere too. People dig out their old records, or they buy new ones, and they pay tribute in their own homes by playing them. It feels intimate and personal. It's a lovely thing to do - for one thing, it reminds us that though they are gone, their music isn't, and we help to maintain the legacy they wanted to leave behind.
That was what I did after I heard of Chester's passing. I was on my computer at the time, so I opened up Spotify and played "What I've Done" with the volume as loud as I could stand it. At the time, it was one of only two Linkin Park songs I knew. The other song being "Bleed It Out". I'm not even sure why I didn't look for more, seeing as I loved both songs. I still regret that a whole year afterwards.
The tribute went on. I listened to "Crawling", "In The End", "Numb", "Faint", "A Place For My Head", to name a few. I sat there, kicking myself. Where had these songs been all my life? Why had I waited till it was too late to appreciate them? There's no real valid answer to these questions. I had been stuck in my habits, and now I was paying the price for it.
But it's not just my kind of regret that exists when someone like Chester dies. There's probably many more Linkin Park fans out there - maybe even reading this article - who lost the chance to see them live as they were before his death. That sort of regret must be far worse. You had the albums and the t-shirts, but never the euphoria of finding yourself in the same room as one of the giants of modern rock, screaming along with them and thousands of other fans just like you to the songs that soundtracked the greatest or the lowest moments of your life - and that cannot now be changed. The most vital thing we can do after that is to not repeat it. And I am doing the same.
The moral of the story is simple. Don't wait. Don't wait till a band has broken up or a key member has died to discover that you have been missing out. Try everything. Listen widely. Hold onto the bands you know and cherish them. Appreciate them while they are still here. Don't take them for granted. If you have the money and the time, and a band you love goes on tour near you, see them. Don't procrastinate. Don't wait. Don't do what I did.
To anyone who knew Chester in person, his music, or both: I'll be thinking of you on Friday. And on behalf of all of us, Chester - we miss you.
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