Phoenix Artist To Showcase Photos Of Late Linkin Park Frontman

By Grayson Schmidt
Published: Monday, June 17, 2019 - 8:35am
Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 11:20am

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Jim Louvau
Chester Bennington

While most music fans were mourning the death of a rock star on the morning of July 20, 2017, Jim Louvau was mourning a friend.

Linkin Park frontman and Phoenix native Chester Bennington took his own life at the age of 41. Almost two years later, Louvau plans to open up his photo archive to the public and honor his late friend with a full exhibit at MonOrchid in downtown Phoenix this Friday night.

"The very first thought I had after he had passed away was that I had all these photos, and instead of letting them sit on a hard drive, and not doing anything with them, I had the idea of doing the exhibit because I wanted to share the art that we made together," Louvau said.

The two first met in the early 2000s, when Louvau’s band Victims in Ecstacy was performing at local clubs and music festivals with Linkin Park. Linkin Park had recently released their breakthrough album, "Hybrid Theory," which has since been certified diamond — over 10 million copies sold — by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

"We played together, and (Bennington) was just really complimentary of what I was doing musically," Louvau said.

Through the years, Louvau said he and Bennington tried to keep in touch, but it was difficult due to constant touring. In 2007, he took the frontman’s photo following a show at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, which started the photographic journey. Louvau said he’s always had a passion for photography, and had shot concerts for various publications, but it was those initial 16 photos that he says helped jumpstart his career.

"At that point, he was in one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and kind of the domino effect happened,” Louvau said. “People saw that I was working with him and then it opened other doors for me.”

Louvau said he would take photos of Bennington on and off for the next decade when he would come back to Phoenix, or when he had shows in Las Vegas. He said that through his roughly 10,000 photos, he was able to capture different sides to Bennington that few were privy to.

And then he woke up one July morning to dozens of texts, all with a similar message — "I'm so sorry."

"It was one of the worst days of my life," Louvau said.

Corey Peterson knows that pain all too well. Only five months earlier, Peterson lost his son A.J. to suicide at only 13 years old.

"It gave me a level of empathy that I never wanted," Peterson said. "I joined a club that I never wanted to join."

In a recent report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust, from 2007 to 2017 suicide rates in people ages 18 to 34 increased by 35 percent. In that same timespan, drug-related deaths increased by 108 percent, while alcohol-related deaths went up by 69 percent.

Peterson works as the director of admissions at A Better Today Recovery Services, and says that even though those numbers seem daunting, he hopes that they allow for further conversations about mental health and substance abuse. From Peterson’s perspective, there has been a shift in how people talk about these issues, and the days of "keeping it all in" seem to be fading.

"You're not in this alone," Peterson said. "I've always said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary state of mind. We need to feel what we feel, and we can get through it."

Though he said that he wants Linkin Park fans to come out and appreciate the exhibit, Louvau said he hopes that people are able to see past the music, or his death, and see what he saw every time he took Bennington’s photo.

Louvau already rolled out the first exhibit this past March (on Bennington’s birthday) in Los Angeles and hopes that the people of Phoenix enjoy a glimpse into the relationship the two men had.

"There are so many different layers to this exhibit, everything from the onstage stuff to the offstage stuff, to the kind of goofy stuff, to charity stuff, to just really getting a really accurate feel for who he was as a person," Louvau said.

Tickets for "Celebrating the Life of Chester Bennington" are on sale now with a portion of the proceeds benefiting 320 Changes Direction, a mental health charity co-founded by Bennington's wife.

Resources

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

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