Former Warner Bros. A&R Exec Jeff Blue Remembers Chester Bennington, Linkin Park's Early Days
publish date: 2017-07-27
Jeff Blue is a multiplatinum producer and songwriter, and a veteran A&R executive who has worked at Atlantic, Interscope, Zomba Music Publishing and RCA, among other labels. In the late 1990s into the 2000s, Blue helped shepherd Linkin Park’s early career and negotiated its deal with Warner Bros. Records, bringing the band with him when he became a senior vp A&R at WBR. He is currently developing new duo Riot Child for his production company, Jeff Blue Music. Here, Blue remembers his longtime friend, the late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who died July 20.
It was 1997. A young and inspired Brad Delson was my intern at Zomba Music Publishing. The future Linkin Park founder-guitarist glanced at the Korn plaque and Limp Bizkit poster on my wall and told me he was going to put a band together that would change the world.
After seeing Brad's band, Xero, perform its first show, I signed it to a publishing development deal. Together, we set out on the four-year development run that would introduce the world to what became Linkin Park and the gentle purity and emotional complexity of an artist named Chester Bennington.
But that would come later, and with some tweaks to Xero's setup. After 44 showcases and 43 rejections from labels, it was apparent there needed to be a change.
In 1999, attorney Scott Harrington suggested Chester from a band called Grey Daze in Phoenix as a possible new lead singer to complement Mike Shinoda. We called Chester and asked him if he wanted to make history by being the next big vocalist in a band that no one had heard of... yet.