Chester Bennington's Nineties Alt-Rock Crew Grey Daze
The late Linkin Park frontman nearly gave up on the music industry after the failure of his first serious band. Bennington began to take an active interest in music while a high school student in the Phoenix area. Initially he collaborated with his friend Sean Dowdell in the aptly named collective Sean Dowdell and His Friends in the early 1990s. "At the time we couldn't think of a name so I shouted something stupid out and it we all laughed and used it for about a year or so as the name," Dowdell later explained. They played upwards of 50 gigs around the Phoenix area, and even recorded a three-song demo before the band disintegrated.
In 1993 Dowdell formed a new band with bassist Jonathan Krause, and together they submitted an ad in the Phoenix New Times for a new guitarist and vocalist. They found the former in Steve Mitchell, but none of the singing hopefuls were a good match. Eventually they recruited Bennington back into the fold, calling themselves Lovelies Bleeding before settling on Grey Daze. They played their first gig in January 1994 at Thunder & Lightning Bar & Grill in Scottsdale, and within months they had recorded a professional demo at a local engineering school. By that October they entered the studio to record their first album, Wake Me, an independent release financed by their manager, which entered the rotation on local radio stations.
Grey Daze kept up a steady appearance at local clubs, restaurants, bars, warehouse, private parties and even the odd desert gig before returning to the studio to record a second album, 1997's ...No Sun Today. A third record was planned, but a discouraged Bennington, who worked at a digital services firm during the day to make ends meet, decided to leave the band in 1998. Resigned to a life of obscurity, he was approached by Jeff Blue, the Vice President of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles. Blue suggested he audition for a group called Xero, who were looking for a replacement singer. Skipping his own birthday celebration, Bennington recorded an audition song and wound up getting the job in the spring of 1999 – taking his place alongside Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, Rob Bourdon and Joe Hahn. Not long after, they took the name Linkin Park in honor of the Santa Monica greenery.