The beginning of the band started when Mike and Brad were friends at high school (aged 13), their friendship formed over their love for all kinds of music and for making music, also Brad taught Mike how to play guitar. Meanwhile Brad was also playing in bands with Rob. They moved on to university where Mike met Joe at the Pasadena Art center, and Brad and Phoenix were roommates in UCLA.
After university they became more serious about their music which they were making in Mike’s bedroom, they recruited Mark Wakefield for the vocals and formed the band Xero in 1996.
The band sent out demo’s to everywhere but with no prevail, leading to Mark to leave the band and for Phoenix to rejoin his old band Tasty Snax. Leaving Xero in need of a singer.
In March 1999, Jeff Blue sent out a Xero demo tape to Chester Bennington who he knew was looking for a band, Chester missed his birthday party to put his vocals over the demo and played it down the phone to the band the next day. He then flew to LA from Arizona the day after to audition for the band, the band were impressed and recruited him as their new singer. They also changed the band name to Hybrid Theory.
While waiting for a label to catch on, the band wrote new music and practiced, while playing shows wherever they could play. They also released the Hybrid Theory EP in 1999; before changing their name to Linkin Park, after the Lincoln Park that Chester had to walk through to get to band rehearsal, but with a different spelling so they could get a linkinpark.com domain name and for other legal reasons.
After being rejected by major labels numerous times (including Warner Bros 3 times) Jeff Blue again helped the band to get a record deal at Warner Bros in 1999.
The bands first album Hybrid Theory was release on 24th October, 2000 and was the biggest selling album of 2001. Hybrid Theory is currently the second best-selling album of the decade and is the biggest selling Linkin Park album to date and has received a Diamond Award status. The album was produced by Don Gilmore, mixed by Andy Wallace and recorded at NRG. Recording the album was essentially reworking and re-recording demos that they had been sending out to record companies, and was completed in four weeks. Bass duties were taken on by Brad with Scott Koziol and Ian Hornbeck being called in as stand-in bassists.
Hybrid Theory split critics, however on November 28th the bands first single One Step Closer was released, the video (which featured Scott Koziol on bass) was a hit and was played heavily on MTV and other music channels.
During this time Phoenix rejoined the band and in 2001 they toured the album extensively, including being invited onto the Family Values tour and Ozzfest. The singles released in 2001: Crawling, Papercut and In The End followed the success of One Step Closer, with In The End becoming one of Linkin Park’s most popular and well known songs and Crawling winning the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance beating the likes of Rage Against The Machine, POD, Alien Ant Farm and Saliva.
An additional promotional video of live clips from the tours was put together for Points Of Authority, which featured on music channels in Europe.
The band were also invited to perform at the 2001 MTV Music Video Awards, where Crawling won Best Rock Video and Best Direction in a Video. They performed One Step Closer with special guests the The X-Ecutioners whom added an extended bridge.
Linkin Park released the Frat Party At The Pancake Festival DVD on the 20th November 2001 which gave an insight for the fans into the personalities in the band it also featured the bands videos from Hybrid Theory.
In January and February of 2002, they embarked on the first Projekt Revolution tour across North America, they were joined on tour by Cypress Hill, Adema and DJ Z-Trip. The band cited that they put together the tour so they could put together a bill of acts that provided a mix of rock/hip hop/electronic music, as Linkin Park does in their music.
Reanimation was released on July 30th, after being recorded whilst the band were on tour. The album featured hip hop and electronic reworkings of the songs from Hybrid Theory and the Hybrid Theory EP. Remixes were done by the band themselves and other guests such as Cheapshot, The Humble Brothers and Kutmaster Kurt. Other artists provided vocals to be added to tracks such as Jonathon Davies and Black Thought.
Pts.Of.Athrty, remixed by Jay Gordon, was released as a single a week before the album released with a CGI video. In addition Joe Hahn made videos for every song on the album, a few were to be used on MTV as they played the album, the videos were released onto a Reanimation DVD.
During the touring they set up a elaborate studio in the back of the bus to work on the follow up to Hybrid Theory; and after recording again at NRG, their second studio album, Meteora was released on the 25th (24th internationally) of March 2003. The album was produced by Don Gilmore and Linkin Park, and mixed by Andy Wallace.
Meteora, named after the Greek complex to give the impression of something collosal, continued in the footsteps of Linkin Park’s sound, they mixed heavy guitars with electronica, hip hop and Chester’s rock vocals. Although notably Meteora also included softer elements in Numb, Easier To Run and Breaking The Habit, which brought great personal triumph to the band, as Mike admitted he had been trying to write this song for years.
The album was released as a regular edition (brown cover) and special edition with a Making of Meteora DVD (blue cover).
The album was another global success for Linkin Park as it went to #1 in US and in many other countries such as the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria.
Leading up to the release of Meteora a new episode of LPTV (series 1) was released weekly with footage of the band making of the album, and everything that goes with making an album, such as the band were shown creating the art wall for the album sleeve and taking promo shoots.
In the beginning of March before the release of Meteora, the band went on a small tour for LPU fanclub members, where the band premiered the new songs, the concert at Nottingham’s Rock City, UK was recorded and aired on BBC Radio 1.
Again they toured the album thoroughly through 2003 and 2004, including joining Metallica’s 2003 Summer Sanitarium tour, they shared the bill with Limp Bizkit, Deftones and Mudvayne, with Metallica headlining. The band enjoyed the tour so they filmed their 2 shows in Texas and put them together for the live DVD/CD set Live In Texas which was released on November, 18th 2003. During these shows they played P5hng Me A*wy from Reanimation, they also often added the bridge from 1stp Klosr when they performed One Step Closer.
The band then completed 2 Projekt Revolution tours in 2003 and 2004, where they added a second stage, and a Meteora World Tour.
In late 2004 the band received an invitation from Jay-Z to work with him to do a few songs for MTV’s Mash Up Series. Mike sent a few remixes to Jay and they gave feedback back and forth, then they spent 3 days in the studio and completed 6 mash-ups combining Linkin Park and Jay-Z tracks, more than MTV had initially asked for. So they then invited LPU members and Jay-Z fans to a show at the Roxy in LA, where they played Collision Course in full (as well as a few Linkin Park songs) the show was recorded to be shown on MTV worldwide.
The Collision Course EP was released on November 30, 2004 with a DVD featuring the live show from the Roxy and a making of documentary, with Linkin Park and Jay-z working in the studio and rehearsing for the show.
Since Collision Course Jay-Z has joined Linkin Park on stage to perform tracks from Collision Course at the Live 8 concert (2005), at a Music For Relief Tsunami Benefit concert (2005), Linkin Park’s show at Madison Square Garden (2008) and Projekt Revolution UK (2008).
In 2006 at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards Linkin Park and Jay-Z won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, they also performed a mash-up between Numb/Encore and Yesterday by The Beatles, halfway through the performance Paul McCartney joined them on stage.
After the extensive touring and non stop working the band decided to take a break, giving Mike time to work on a hip hop solo project.
Not wanting the focus being on Mike, he called his project Fort Minor, The Rising Tied was released on November 22, 2005 (21st internationally). Mike produced the album himself but recruited Jay-Z as the executive producer. The album was released with a making of DVD, in which you can see Jay-Z and Brad Delson critiquing the album with Mike. The album featured contributions from a lot of Mike’s friends, Styles Of Beyond being present in a lot of the tracks.
The Rising Tied was commended for the use of organic sounds and the themes used in the lyrics by both critics and fans.
…one of the best hip-hop releases
He toured the album worldwide, including playing European festivals, supporting 50 Cent and playing his own headline shows. Notably, he also played 2006 Summer Sonic festival with Fort Minor and Linkin Park in the same day.
In 2006 the Linkin Park returned to the studio this time with legendary producer Rick Rubin, known for working with artists who want to try something new from the music they have made in the past. They began work on their third studio album, with the goal to move on from Hybrid Theory and Meteora.
Minutes To Midnight was released on the 14th of May 2007, the album title being a reference to the doomsday clock.The band succeeded in making an album that moved away from Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the new sound divided fans and critics alike, however Minutes To Midnight received global commercial success, reaching number 1 in numerous countries including, the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada.
Minutes to Midnight features Chester’s vocals heavily, and the electronic and hip hop elements present in the other albums diminished, with Mike rapping on only ‘Bleed It Out’ and ‘Hands Held High’, the album also saw Mike singing a whole song for the first time, ‘In Between’ and also in Minutes To Midnight tour edition bonus track ‘No Roads Left’ which became a fan favorite.
“most of Minutes is honed, metallic pop with a hip-hop stride and a wake-up kick…4/5 stars”
The album was released as a regular edition, special edition with DVD Making of, and making of the What I’ve Done video. A deluxe edition was also available, including a coffee table art book version of the album artwork and art cards.
Before the release of Minutes to Midnight the band released another series of LPTV (series 2) and did a short promotional tour.
Again the band toured all over the world in support of Minutes to Midnight through 2007 and 2008, including European festivals, and UK, Europe, Australia, and American arena tours, and also 2 Projekt Revolution tours, which featured the first Projekt Revolution dates outside of North America in Germany and England.
The Projekt Revolution date at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, UK, on June 29, 2008 was recorded for the CD/DVD “Road to Revolution : Live in Milton Keynes” which was released on the 24th November 2008. The venue is popular for bands recording live DVD’s there including Green Day and Queen.
Also on the bill were Jay-Z (co-headliner), Pendulum, N*E*R*D, Enter Shikari, The Bravery and Innerpartysystem. Jay-Z played his own full set and then joined Linkin Park during the encore for their set to perform Numb/Encore and Jigga What?/Faint from Collision Course. The set also saw Mike sing Hands Held High a cappela for the first time, which wasn’t planned but a fan was holding up a banner requesting the song.
Parts of the concert were also aired on MTV in a Projekt Revolution special and single songs on other music channels.
Linkin Park always mention that they find it difficult naming their albums, so they set up a competition for fans to submit titles for the CD/DVD and then to vote on finalists chosen by the band; with the winner ending up to be Road To Revolution.
The live performance of What I’ve Done from the album was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards, but lost out to a studio track from AC/DC.
The band finished the tour cycle for Minutes To Midnight with a US Projekt Revolution tour and a tour of Asia.
In 2009 the band worked on the score for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, including contributing the brand new track New Divide which was played during the film and as the credits rolled. The band also released the single digitally (May 18, 2009) and physically (June 16, 2009), and made a music video for it.
The band also played a number of shows across Europe, Asia and in LA.
2009 also saw the release of the long awaited Chester’s side project, Dead By Sunrise’s album ‘Out Of Ashes’, on October 13th. On which Chester had worked with members from Julien-K to write and record the album. The album was mainly rock with a few softer songs, including ‘Give Me Your Name’. Chester said that he really needed to deal with the personal stuff that he wrote about on ‘Out Of Ashes’ before beginning to work on the next Linkin Park album. He also took time out from writing the new Linkin Park album to tour with Dead By Sunrise.
After the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Linkin Park together with Music For Relief put together an album featuring all new tracks from artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Dave Matthew’s Band and Slash in addition to their own track Not Alone to help generate donations to support Haiti. By April the album had raised $200,000 in donations for Haiti.
On 26 April 2010 the band released a game developed by Artificial Life, Inc. for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad entitled Linkin Park’s ’8- Bit Rebellion!’. The user had to defeat the organization PixxelKorp, by retrieving lost pieces of tracks and returning them to members of Linkin Park.
The game included 8-Bit drawings of the band members and of members of Linkin Park HQ, all of whom along with a few other characters you can interact with, all of which were made by Mike. Mike also made 8 bit versions of ‘Crawling’, ‘Faint’ , ‘Hands Held High’ , ‘In The End’ , ‘New Divide’ ‘No More Sorrow’ , ‘One Step Closer’ and ‘QWERTY’ to be played in the background as the player works their way through the game, the studio versions of the songs are also in the game as well as the previously unreleased song and video ‘Blackbirds’ which fans were rewarded with on completion of the game. There is also a social network in the game as players can befriend each other, send messages, gifts and IM each other.
In June Linkin Park posted a series of puzzles for fans to decipher on LinkinPark.com, puzzles included binary code, missing words and graphics to unmask, fans were rewarded with the album title, single title and release dates.
Linkin Park’s fourth studio album entitled A Thousand Suns, was released in the US on September 14th 2010 (10th, 13th and 15th internationally). It was co-produced by Mike and Rick Rubin, mixed by Neal Avron and recorded in the NRG studios, as well as a lot of the work being done in both Mike and Joe Hahn’s home studios.
The album saw Linkin Park shift their sound in yet again another direction, incorporating as many unique sounds and samples as they could, even using children toys to find the sound that fitted a song the best. Consequently the album had a strong electronic/dance drive to it, which had been missing in Minutes To Midnight. Fans also noted a lack of Mike’s vocals in Minutes To Midnight. In contrast Mike’s part in A Thousand Suns is huge, he delivered some of his best raps on tracks including ‘When They Come For Me’, ‘Waiting For The End’ and ‘Wretches and Kings’. He also sang on most of the tracks which gave the band freedom to experiment with interplay between Mike and Chester’s vocals. The band also refused to use any of the ‘usual’ song structures they had relied on in the past, preferring to make the songs less predictable and more interesting.
As usual the band complied a documentary, Meeting A Thousand Suns from footage in the studio, and released it with A Thousand Suns special edition and deluxe edition. They also released a limited edition skateboard with the album.
The album launch was celebrated by a laser light show in the LA with Q&A with the band the on September 7 and a concert in New York on the US release date.
The album was preceded by the release of The Catalyst single. Linkin Park announced a remix competition before the release, they released music stems from which the fans could put together a song adding any of their own vocals and instruments as they wanted, with the winning entry being featured on certain editions of A Thousand Suns, teacher NoBrain from Poland was chosen by the band to be the winner and took part in a video chat with Mike Shinoda.
The Catalyst also featured in an extended trailer for the video game: Medal of Honor. Linkin Park used the game as a platform to launch the single, and was involved in promotion for the game, with Mike attending a Sony Press Conference and playing the game in front of the attendees. The game trailer including The Catalyst became the most viewed video on YouTube worldwide. The Catalyst was just as well received and was the first #1 debut in history of Billboard Rock Songs chart, and was #1 in many rock and alternative radio stations around the country.
A Thousand Suns was given rave reviews from fans and critics alike, cited for the drastic change in the sound of the album in contrast to Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Minutes To Midnight and also how it contrasted to any other albums, with reviewers comparing it to the likes of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.
“…snippets of sound wrapped in political rhetoric sew the larger songs together. Add it all up and you have something as textural as it is inventive. This being Linkin Park, the sonic ingenuity and audio wizardry at work is magnificent, making A Thousand Suns a studio enterprise of the highest order…”
- Ian Winwood, Kerrang magazine.
The warm reception to A Thousand Suns was also reflected in album sales as A Thousand Suns debuted at #1 in the US and Australia and on the Billboard’s European Albums chart, and reached #2 in the UK.
The follow up single, Waiting For The End, was released on October 5th.
On October 7th the band kicked off their A Thousand Suns World Tour in Argentina, during October, November and December they took the tour through South America, Israel, Europe and Australia. In January 2011 they plan to tour the album through the US.
Linkin Park live in Madrid, 2010
October 2010 marked the 10 year anniversary since the release of Linkin Park’s celebrated debut album, Hybrid Theory, which became one of the bestselling debut records of all time and won a diamond award in the US for 10 million copies sold.Linkin Park performed an outdoor show in front on 60,000 fans at Puerta de Alcal‡, Madrid, Spain, for the MTV 2010 Europe Music Awards on November 7th, during the award show their performance for Waiting For The End was shown and Linkin Park won the award for Best Live Act. The performance was aired on MTV Live and live EP released through iTunes. In March 2011 the performance was released across Europe on DVD with a re-release of A Thousand Suns, entitled A Thousand Suns+ with a psychedelic version of the album cover.
November also saw the launch of Linkin Park’s own radio station on iheartradio, where bands can record and broadcast their own radio channel. Primarily broadcasts have featured Mike and Chester’s favourite music as well as anecdotes. They have also encouraged fan involvement including asking for questions to be answered on air and calling fans during recordings.
In December, Waiting For The End reached number 1 on the Billboards Alternative Songs Chart, giving Linkin Park their 10th number 1 single in the US.
2011 saw the band take their A Thousand Suns tour throughout North America, including a tremendous show at Madison Square Garden which aired on Fuse TV. They also performed on Saturday Night Live, and was the first band to have their performance aired in black and white on the show. After their show in Montreal, Canada there was reports that Chester was not feeling well, he was reported to be coughing by fans at the show. On February 9th Linkin Park released a statement that Washington DC show was cancelled:
Linkin Park has been forced to cancel their February 10th show in Washington DC at the Verizon Center. Lead vocalist Chester Bennington is ill and under doctor’s orders to refrain from performing. The band sincerely regrets this unavoidable cancellation and apologizes to fans for any disappointment caused. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase beginning February 11th.
They were forced to cancel further tour dates to allow Chester to recover, the last show cancelled being in Dallas, TX; they resumed the tour in Las Vegas, NV and managed to reschedule the two tour dates in Texas at the end of the planned US tour. In interviews it was revealed that Chester had a minor cold but doctors thought it was swine flu, the testing for which made his health worse.
Linkin Park with secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, 2011
In March Linkin Park broadcasted a conference online with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Foundation to discuss the on-going aid for Haiti. Following the conference, in April Phoenix took a trip to Haiti to see how the bands and Music For Relief’s Download To Donate project had benefited them, promotional films of Phoenix in Haiti were also made to encourage people to continue helping in aid for Haiti.
Also in March, Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, in response Linkin Park put together another album, Download To Donate Japan, through Music For Relief, and contributed the new instrumental Issho Ni. Mike also designed two t-shirts, one with a origami butterfly (symbolizing rebirth), the other with Not Alone logo on, proceeds from both and any donations to Music For Relief went to Save The Children.
Linkin Park live at the Transformers premiere in Moscow, 2011
In April it was confirmed that Linkin Park would again be contributing to the soundtrack for the Transformers franchise, the third film and third contribution from Linkin Park was for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which featured a shortened remix of Iridescent, the video for the single was released on June 2nd and featured the robots from the film. Linkin Park also played a live show at the world premiere of the film in Moscow, Russia infront of 20,000 people and the cast of the film.
The band took a 3 month break from touring from March to June during this time they were in studio working on the fifth album, in June they hosted the only two summer festivals in the US, both in California. On June 4th they headlined KROQ’s annual Weenie Roast, on June 5th they headlined LIVE 105′s annual BFD festival. They then travelled to Europe to complete a tour, including several festival headlining appearances and Projekt Revolution shows in Finland and Germany.