Chester Bennington was more than just the singer in one of the biggest bands of the last 20 years - he was a stellar vocalist who could turn his considerable talents to pretty much anything. Sure, Linkin Park classics such as Papercut and In The End are the perfect vehicles for the much-missed frontman’s powerful voice, yet it was the songs he chose to cover with and without the band that showcased his sheer versatility. From industrial metal classics and hair metal power ballads to blockbusting pop hits, here are 10 songs that Chester made his own.
Temple Of The Dog – Hunger Strike
The friendship between Chester and Chris Cornell was unlikely but deep – maybe the Soundgarden singer connected with a fellow troubled soul, or maybe he just recognised Chester’s immense talent. When Cornell supported Linkin Park on 2008’s Projeckt Revolution tour, Bennington would join him each night for a spine-tingling cover of one-and-done grunge supergroup Temple Of The Dog’s epic 1991 song Hunger Strike. The cover showcased both singers’ strengths, with Chester taking the parts originally sung by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Adele – Rolling In The Deep
Adele’s blockbusting Rolling In The Deep was one of the biggest hits of 2011, and pretty much every band on the planet had a crack at it. But few were as stately as the version Linkin Park performed at that year’s iTunes festival in London. Dialling back the blues-tinged disco-gospel bounce of the original, they transform it into a stripped-back piano ballad, to the delight of the audience. Chester turns on the soul as he navigates the wind-tunnel melody, but really, it’s the crowd that owns this one.
Nine Inch Nails – Wish
The influence of industrial music on Linkin Park is there if anyone cared to look – Chester taught himself to sing by screaming along to Ministry songs. The band certainly nailed Nine Inch Nails’ jackhammering 1992 classic when they played it at 2004’s Rock Am Ring festival, with the singer channelling Trent Reznor’s malcontent roar and dragged-out-of-a-dark-cellar angst, despite being bathed in blazing sunshine.
Pantera – Walk
Two for the price of one, as Chester teams up with Disturbed for a joyous blast through Pantera’s Walk at a gig in Holmdel, New Jersey. David Draiman cedes the mic to the Linkin Park man, with the latter proving he could have been a convincing metal singer had things turned out differently, unexpectedly capturing Phil Anslemo’s chest-thumping aggro and hitting those high notes. Total heavy metal fanboy karoake, and brilliant with it.
The Doors – Riders On The Storm
Late Doors frontman Jim Morrison was the patron saint of moody, enigmatic rock stars everywhere, and no song was moodier or more enigmatic than his 1971 swansong Riders On The Storm. Here, veteran guitarist Carlos Santana enlists Chester to bring his own brand of darkness to this noodling 2010 cover. Bennington forgoes Morrison’s demonic baritone for an ominous whisper, but the result is no less striking,
Mötley Crüe – Home Sweet Home
It wasn’t just iconic 60s songs that Chester covered – he could turn in a mean hair metal power ballad too. When Mötley Crüe decided to re-record their 1985 hit twenty years later to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, they roped him in to duet with Crüe singer Vince Neil. Bennington’s perfectly pitched performance lends the song a gravitas and a level of credibility that the brilliant yet overblown original could never have dreamed of.
Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City
Back in the 2000s, Camp Freddy was LA’s premier all-star covers band – a chance for a bunch of A-list musos to perform live karaoke versions of rock classics. Chester got onstage with them on multiple occasions, singing everything from Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love to Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen. But this triumphant knee-slide through Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City, which sees Chester joined by none other than Slash, Duff Mckagan, and Matt Sorum, beats ’em all – just check out Chester nailing that semi-feral Axl screech.
Oasis – Wonderwall
Any band called Bucket Of Weenies isn’t taking things entirely seriously, and so it proved with Chester’s sporadic mid-2000s side project. “If you know the words to this song, you should probably sing along, because I don’t,” he says by way of introducing Oasis’ inescapable 1995 single at an unspecified show back in the day. Showing an impressive lack of respect for Noel Gallagher’s ability to rip off the Beatles – sorry, we mean his ‘songcraft’ – they turn it into a slice of ramshackle suburban grunge-punk. Classic? No. Fun? Hell yeah.
Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song
Bit of a cheat, this one – Chester was actually a paid-up member of Stone Temple Pilots between 2013 and 2015, stepping in for wayward singer Scott Weiland. This version of STP’s 1992 single – captured in Biloxi on their first tour together – isn‘t just a killer version of a grunge-era classic, it also shows what a truly versatile vocalist Chester was, nailing Weiland’s fucked-up-lounge-crooner rasp perfectly.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
We kicked this off with a Chris Cornell duet, and we’ll end with a tribute to the late Soundgarden singer. Chester performed this stark, Leonard Cohen-by-way-of-Jeff Buckley hymnal at his friend’s funeral in May 2017, capturing its beauty and fragility. It’s tough to listen to, so we can only imagine what it was like to sing. Sadder still, a little over three months later, Chester himself was gone.