Prior to Linkin Park achieving massive popularity with the release of their landmark first album in 2000, Hybrid Theory, a photographer named Jim Louvau was introduced to the lead singer, Chester Bennington. The night the two men met, their bands were playing a show together in Phoenix, Arizona, the hometown of both Louvau and Bennington, at the Mason Jar. The two men quickly became friends. Bennington appreciated Louvau’s love for music, as well as his talent with a camera, and Louvau enjoyed capturing pictures of Bennington’s performances.
“It was always a joke between us, but he’d say, ‘I don’t know why you like to take pictures of me, you know I only have two looks,'” Louvau said, according to Daily News.
On March 20, Bennington would have turned 43-years-old, but he committed suicide on July 20, 2017. Bennington will always be remembered for his powerful singing when he performed with his band, Linkin Park, which is the band with which he achieved mega stardom. However, Bennington had been in the music industry for years, and he performed with other bands, too. He had been the lead singer for Dead by Sunrise with Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh or Orgy. He also sang for Stone Temple Pilots after Scott Weiland, the original vocalist, left the band in 2013.
Louvau wanted to celebrate the memory of his talented friend, and respectfully sought the blessing of Bennington’s widow, Talinda. Louvau’s idea was to utilize the bevy of photos he had taken of Bennington throughout the singer’s career to showcase in a gallery. Louvau planned to sell tickets to the event and donated part of the proceeds to Talinda Bennington’s 320 Changes Direction suicide prevention charity. Talinda’s charity works to change American culture’s views of mental health and wellness, according to Daily News.
The initial plan was to showcase the pictures on Bennington’s birthday, so it was a one-night only event. However, tickets sold out so quickly that Louvau added a second night to the gallery exhibition. Hundreds of fans showed up to see the large portraits of Bennington, and a DJ was present playing Linkin Park’s songs.
Chester Bennington Photo Exhibit Draws Huge Crowds on His Birthday Chester Bennington can still attract a massive amount of people in the wake of his death -- just take a look at how many heads showed up to a pop-up... https://t.co/eDfgwHYJDh #cosmetics #entertainment #lifestyle pic.twitter.com/JbxVGLIWqN— CelebStarzNews (@CelebStarzNews) March 21, 2019
Louvau’s favorite photo of Bennington was located by the entry way to the gallery. The picture is a headshot of the singer and comes from the last photo shoot the two friends did together prior to Bennington’s passing.
“I feel like this photo, we’re kind of in the middle somewhere,” Louvau said, according to Daily News. “It looks like he could be deep in thought, but it also looks like he might smile right after this. It’s a little melancholy, but also just firm.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.