A full year has passed since the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington from suicide. Following his death, fans worldwide showed an outpouring of support and his band staged a tribute show in Los Angeles featuring a slate of guest artists. Bennington’s death also refocused attention on mental health awareness and advocacy.
Bennington’s passing came as a shock to Gray Rollin, the owner chef of Santa Rosa’s Belly Left Coast Kitchen. Rollin, Linkin Park’s longtime personal chef, had recently gotten off the road with the band following a U.K. tour, one he said the band considered one of the best of its career.
In an interview with Rock’N Vino earlier this week, Rollin talked about welcoming Bennington after the singer walked off stage after his final performance with Linkin Park at the Birmingham Arena.
“He gave me a big hug and told me he was excited about the future,” Rollin said.
Rollin began his career as a touring chef to the biggest names in music, including Prince, Mötley Crüe, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Katy Perry. But he’s spent most of his time—seven years—on the road with Linkin Park. His job was to understand the band members’ preferences and not only feed them, but keep them healthy on tour. That’s not easy when the band was switching hotels every night and eating at irregular times.
He was filling in at his restaurant the afternoon following Bennington’s passing when his phone began to flood with texts and calls. Finally, he looked to see what was going on.
“I got a message that said, ‘Did you see what happened to Chester?’,” he recalled.
“‘What do you mean what happened to Chester?'”
Stunned, Rollin left the restaurant to grapple with the stunning sadness.
On this episode of Rock’N Vino, you get an inside look at life on the road with Chester Bennington with someone who knew him well.
Linkin Park has yet to announce its next steps, as the members work on individual projects, including Mike Shinoda’s recent solo album.
You can visit Belly Left Coast Kitchen in downtown Santa Rosa.