Photographer Jim Louvau remembers his late friend Chester Bennington, lead vocalist for Linkin Park, in a special exhibition in California titled, “Celebrating the Life of Chester Bennington: A Photo Exhibition by Jim Louvau,” on what would have been Bennington’s 43rd birthday.
On March 20, Bennington would have turned 43, but he died by suicide on July 20, 2017.
The two met back in 2000 when their bands played a show together at the Mason Jar in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Louvau wanted to celebrate the memory of his talented friend, but he first asked for the blessing of Bennington’s widow, Talinda Bennington.
I spared no expense to make the @ChesterBe photo exhibits a special event in his honor. Here’s some of what you can expect. Only 25 tix remain for day 2. Get em here and let’s sell out both nights. https://t.co/31vxpHO5Pu pic.twitter.com/VK279hct55
— Jim Louvau (@LouvauPhoto) March 13, 2019
Louvau’s idea was to showcase never-before-seen photos he’d taken of Bennington throughout the singer’s career in a gallery. He made it a ticketed event for fans with a portion of the proceeds going towards Talinda Bennington’s 320 Changes Direction suicide prevention charity. Talinda Bennington’s charity works to change American culture’s views on mental health, illness, and wellness, according to Daily News.
“This is a celebration of his life,” Louvau told Fox News. “And there’s no better way to celebrate someone’s life than on their birthday…. I really wanted to do something special for him, as a tribute to him, for his fans and for myself. It was my way really of saying thank you.”
Los Angeles: My friends over at @kroq are giving away a @ChesterBe print signed by me & pair of tickets to the photo exhibit on the day of your choice. To enter & for rules visit this link below. Tickets are almost gone, get em’ before day 2 is SOLD OUT! https://t.co/Qb9BYzhS7k pic.twitter.com/EctYip6gky
— Jim Louvau (@LouvauPhoto) March 11, 2019
The initial plan was to have a one-night-only event on Bennington’s birthday. However, the tickets sold out so fast that a second night was added. It also sold out. Hundreds of fans came to see the larger-than-life portraits of Bennington, and a DJ played familiar Linkin Park songs for the fans to sing along to.
“The best thing about all of this is that all of these photos have memories,” Louvau told the Daily News.
The exhibit includes the very first portrait Louvau ever took of Bennington. It’s a black-and-white portrait with Bennington looking stoic and gazing straight at the camera. The photo dates back to 2007, backstage at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona, reported the Daily News.
— Jim Louvau (@LouvauPhoto) March 18, 2019
Louvau told Fox News he knew about Bennington struggling with mental health, but he was still devastated when he learned of his death.
“It was one of the worst experiences that I had,” he told Fox News. “You turn on the radio and there he is. … It’s something you kind of can’t get away from when you lose someone who was so successful. That definitely was the hardest part.”
Check out these beautiful 18×24 silkscreen limited edition posters I had made to commemorate the @ChesterBe events. They limited to 100 and hand signed by the artist and myself. Get there early and purchase one before they are gone. See you tomorrow L.a. pic.twitter.com/Xz4krQbrEX
— Jim Louvau (@LouvauPhoto) March 19, 2019
Despite his grief, Louvau wanted to celebrate his friend. He also hopes that the photos in the exhibit will share an alternate view of Bennington with his fans.
“I hope people see the different sides of Chester in these photographs,” he said. “When most people think of Chester, they think Linkin Park. For me, Linkin Park is the last thing I think of. I remember Chester as the young, hungry musician who was super humble and who became a man willing to help his community. Each of these photos will always hold a different, special memory for me.”
When planning this exhibit in L.a for @ChesterBe it was important to me to show different sides of his personality. Giving back was always important to him & this is him while interacting with a sick child & his family in the hospital. Get tickets here: https://t.co/OAZ2RasEis pic.twitter.com/yzfMdDbCPy
— Jim Louvau (@LouvauPhoto) February 15, 2019