Pretoria fans linked in grief for Linkin Park's Chester

14 August 2017 - 13:17
By Nico Gous
Werner and Mari Buitendag.
Image: Nico Gous Werner and Mari Buitendag.

A nightclub in Pretoria turned down the music on Saturday morning to reflect on the death of a rock star. About 40 fans gathered on the porch of Arcade Empire to remember Chester Bennington, singer from Linkin Park, who hanged himself on July 20 at his house in California.

Fans had damp eyes as they raised a glass, lit candles, put up posters and laid down flowers. Some wrote messages in a book and on a South African flag and spoke on an open microphone.

"This guy went to his grave with every one of my secrets," said Stephan Swanepoel, 17, from Hartbeespoortdam. "He was just there for me. Not that my mother was not there for me. Some things I cannot say."

Mari Buitendag from Pretoria said Bennington's death felt similar to that of her brother two years ago: "Where do you get that strength back if you looked up to someone and they were that strong person for you? Even if it is only music?"

Johan van der Westhuizen, 30, from Pretoria said he still remembers every lyric from Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park's first album, released in 2000.

"I realised I remembered every single word. That proved to me how important they were to us, not just Chester, but the whole band."

The event was organised by Shaun Muthaya and Tessa Anderson, Linkin Park ambassadors in South Africa.

"Unfortunately our first meeting with the fans was through the loss of a loved one," said Muthaya.

Memorial services for Bennington are planned for Cape Town and Durban. A South African flag and messages from fans will be sent to the band.

A support group leader from the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, Jané Combrinck, said depression "doesn't care if you are religious, black, white, female, the most phenomenal rock star in the world. It will get you."

She said one in three people will suffer from mental disease in their lifetime. One in 10 of these will have depression.