Bennington was found dead at his Californian home on July 20, 2017. The 41-year-old singer died by suicide.
Interviewed by Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio, Sean Dowdell, the drummer for Bennington’s pre-Linkin Park band Grey Daze, revealed that he spoke to the singer two nights before his death, and saw no indication that his long-time friend was anxious or troubled. “He was on top of the world,” Dowdell remembers.
Throughout his career, Bennington had made no secret of his long-term struggles with depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. But Dowdell says he had “no sense” that anything was amiss when he spoke with his friend in mid-July.
“Over the years, he did struggle in several different areas,” the drummer acknowledged. “But in the weeks and months leading up to his life-ending choice, I guess, is the best way I can put that, I did not sense anything. I talked to him two nights before he passed. He was on top of the world. He was excited about starting rehearsals. He was excited about a lot of things. We were working on a new business location together. I didn’t sense anything.’
“Now, eight or nine months before that, my wife sensed something in him and said, ‘Chester’s not right. Something’s off’,” Dowdell admitted. “And I said, ‘No, no, no. He’s just trying to go for a new look or whatever.’ And she said, ‘No. I can see something in his eyes.’ And she literally said that to me. And I just blew it off, like, ‘No. I don’t think so.’ And then, of course, what happened, happened. And it’s easy to look back and go, ‘Oh, yeah. She saw it.’ But you never truly know what’s happening in someone’s mind.”
“Had Chester been thinking rationally, I don’t think he would have done what he did at all,” the drummer stated. “I just think that that’s what depression does — it removes the rational thought process from the moment that you take that choice. And sometimes there’s somebody there to help talk you out of it or to guide you in a different way or to distract you away from it, but the way this happened, it didn’t. There was nobody else there. And when that hit him at that specific moment, there was nobody else for him to lean on at the time, and that’s the most unfortunate thing, I think.”
Grey Daze’s album, Amends, featuring vocals from Bennington, was released in June last year, and featured updated versions of older songs from the Phoenix, Arizona group’s back catalogue.