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Linkin Park’s ‘Hybrid Theory’ + ‘Meteora’ Producer: Working With Chester Bennington Was ‘A Dream Come True’

Getty Images / Stringer
Getty Images / Stringer

Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Meteora producer Don Gilmore has spoken out about what a joy it was to work with Chester Bennington on the band’s mega-selling debut and sophomore albums. Gilmore even went so far as calling it “a dream come true.”

When Linkin Park entered the studio to record Hybrid Theory in 2000, producer Don Gilmore knew he had the opportunity to capture Chester Bennington’s powerful voice on tape. It’s actually the main reason Gilmore signed on for the project after watching Linkin Park rehearse in their practice space. The demos were brought to me through my manager and I thought it was good. I didn’t necessarily think it was amazing, but I liked that they were trying to do something unique. So I met with them — they were looking at some other producers — and I went to a rehearsal, and Chester started singing and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, this is really special,’” Gilmore tells Billboard.

“I’d never really heard somebody sing that incredibly just in a little crappy rehearsal room,” the producer continues. “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 even reveals that the “shut up” section of “One Step Closer” was written on the fly. “There were different lyrics written, we were saying maybe it could be a musical section, and then Mike and Chester came in with this and Chester went out and sang it and it was just overpowering,” Gilmore recalls. “He knocked the walls down in the little fort. When he sang it, he just literally destroyed the whole thing and almost broke the microphone.”

The producer continues, “For a record producer he was just a dream come true. He could go to that point that was, like, beyond — it’s just crazy how hard he could go with such precision. And even when he sings softly, the precision [was there]. So yeah, he was a super special guy.”

Tributes to Chester Bennington have been pouring in since the singer took his own life on July 20. After a few days to process their crushing loss, Linkin Park themselves penned a heartfelt note to their beloved bandmate.

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