Originally consisting of three high school friends, Linkin Park's foundation was anchored by Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson along with Rob Bourdon. After graduating from high school, the California natives began to take their musical interests more seriously, recruiting Joe Hahn, Dave "Phoenix" Farrell, and Mark Wakefield to perform in their band then titled Xero. Though limited in resources, the band began recording and producing songs within Shinoda's make-shift bedroom studio in 1996. Tensions and frustration within the band grew after they failed to land a record deal. The lack of success and stalemate in progress prompted Wakefield, at that time the band's vocalist, to leave the band in search for other projects. Farrell would also leave the band to tour with Tasty Snax and other bands.
After spending a considerable time searching for Wakefield's replacement, Xero recruited Arizona vocalist Chester Bennington. Jeff Blue, the vice president of Zomba Music, had referred him to the band in March 1999. Bennington, formerly of Grey Daze, became a standout among applicants on account of his unique singing style. The band changed their name from Xero to Hybrid Theory. The newborn vocal chemistry between Shinoda and Bennington helped revive the band, inciting them to work on new material. The band's renaissance culminated with a change in name; from Hybrid Theory, the band changed their name to Linkin Park, a play on and homage to Santa Monica's Lincoln Park. However, despite these changes, the band still struggled to sign a record deal. After facing numerous rejections from several major record labels, Linkin Park turned to Jeff Blue for additional help. After failing to catch Warner Bros. Records on three previous reviews, Jeff Blue, now the vice president of Warner Bros. Records, helped the band sign a deal with the company in 1999. The band released their breakthrough album, Hybrid Theory, the following year.
Hybrid Theory (2000–2002)
Linkin Park released Hybrid Theory on October 24, 2000. The album, which represented half a decade's worth of the band's work, was edited by music producer Don Gilmore. Hybrid Theory was well received by music fans; the band sold more than 4.8 million records during its debut year, earning it the status of best-selling album of 2001, while singles such as "Crawling" and "One Step Closer" established themselves as staples among alternative rock radio play lists during the year. Additionally, other singles from the album were featured in movies such as Dracula 2000, Little Nicky, and Valentine. Hybrid Theory was also nominated for three Grammy Awards, including best new artist, best rock album, and best hard rock performance (for "Crawling"). MTV awarded the band their Best Rock Video and Best Direction awards for "In the End". Through the winning of the Grammy for best hard rock performance, Hybrid Theory's overall success had catapulted the band into the mainstream's attention.
During this time, Linkin Park received many invitations to perform on many high-profile tours and concerts including Ozzfest, Family Values Tour and KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. The band also formed their own tour, Projekt Revolution, which featured other notable artists such as, Cypress Hill, Adema, and Snoop Dogg. Within a year's stretch, Linkin Park had performed at over 320 concerts. The experiences and performances of the precocious band were documented in their first DVD, Frat Party at the Pankake Festival, which debuted in November 2001. Now reunited with former bassist Dave Farrell, the band began work on a remix album, dubbed Reanimation, which would include works from Hybrid Theory and Hybrid Theory EP. Reanimation debuted on July 30, 2002, featuring the likes of Black Thought, Jonathan Davis, Aaron Lewis, and many others. Reanimation claimed the second spot on the Billboard 200, and sold nearly 270,000 copies during its debut week.
Following the success of Hybrid Theory and Reanimation, Linkin Park spent a significant amount of time touring around the United States. The band began to work on new material amidst their saturated schedule, spending a sliver of their free time in their tour bus' studio. The band officially announced the production of a new studio album in December 2002, revealing their new work was inspired by the rocky region of Meteora in Greece, where numerous monasteries have been built on top of the rocks. Meteora featured a mixture of the band's previous nu metal and rapcore styles with newer innovative effects, including the induction of a shakuhachi (a Japanese flute made of bamboo) and other instruments. Linkin Park's second album debuted on March 25, 2003 and instantly earned worldwide recognition, going to #1 in the US and UK, and #2 in Australia.
Meteora sold more than 800,000 copies during its first week, and it ranked as the best selling album on the Billboard charts at the time. Music videos for some of the album's singles, including "Somewhere I Belong", "Breaking the Habit", "Faint", and "Numb", received significant radio attention. By October 2003, Meteora sold nearly three million copies. The album's success allowed Linkin Park to form another Projekt Revolution, which featured other bands and artists including, Mudvayne, Blindside, and Xzibit. Additionally, Metallica invited Linkin Park to play at the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003, which included well-known acts such as Limp Bizkit, Mudvayne and Deftones. The band released an album and DVD, entitled Live in Texas, which consisted of audio and video tracks of some of the band's performances in Texas during the tour. In early 2004, Linkin Park started a world tour titled the Meteora World Tour, supporting bands on the tour include Hoobastank, P.O.D. and Story of the Year.
Meteora earned the band multiple awards and honors. The band won MTV's awards for Best Rock Video ("Somewhere I Belong") and the Viewer's Choice Award ("Breaking the Habit"). Linkin Park also received significant recognition during the 2004 Radio Music Awards, winning the Artist of the Year and Song of the Year ("Numb") awards. Although Meteora was not nearly as successful as Hybrid Theory, it was the third best selling album in America during 2003. The band spent the first few months of 2004 touring around the world, first with the third Projekt Revolution tour, and later several European concerts.
Side projects (2004–2006)
Bennington appears on the band's behalf at MTV Asia AidFollowing Meteora's success, the band postponed working on a new studio album for the next few years. Instead, Linkin Park continued to tour and work on many side projects. Bennington appeared on DJ Lethal's "State of the Art" and other work with Dead by Sunrise, while Shinoda did work with Depeche Mode. In 2004, the band began to work with Jay-Z to produce another remix album, entitled Collision Course. The album, which featured intermixed lyrics and background tracks from both artists' previous albums, debuted in November 2004. Shinoda also formed a new band, Fort Minor, as a side project. With the aid of Jay-Z, Fort Minor released their debut album, The Rising Tied, to critical acclaim. At the same time, the band's relationship with Warner Bros. Records was deteriorating rapidly on account of several trust and financial issues. After months of feuding, the band finally negotiated a deal in December 2005.
Linkin Park also participated in numerous charitable events. Linkin Park helped raise money to benefit victims of hurricane Charley in 2004 and later hurricane Katrina in 2005. The band donated $75,000 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in March of 2004. They also helped relief efforts for the 2004 tsunami victims by staging several charity concerts and setting up an additional fund called "Music for Relief". Most notably, however, the band participated at Live 8, a series of charitable benefit concerts set up to raise global awareness. Alongside Jay-Z, the band performed on Live 8's stage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a global audience. The band would later be reunited with Jay-Z at the Grammy Award Ceremony 2006, during which they performed Numb/Encore, en route to winning a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. They would later go on to play at the 2006 Summer Sonic music festival, which was hosted by Metallica, in Japan.
Minutes to Midnight (2006–present)
Linkin Park in Prague, 2007Linkin Park returned to the recording studios in 2006 to work on new material. To produce the album, the band chose producer Rick Rubin. Despite initially stating the album would debut sometime in 2006, the album was delayed until 2007. The band had recorded thirty to fifty songs in August 2006, when Shinoda stated the album was halfway completed. Bennington later added that the new album would stray away from their previous nu metal sound. Warner Bros. Records officially announced that the band's third studio album, entitled Minutes to Midnight, would be released on May 15, 2007 in the United States. After spending fourteen months working on the album, the band opted to further refine their album by removing five of the original seventeen tracks. The album's title, a reference to the Doomsday Clock, foreshadowed the band's new lyrical themes. Minutes to Midnight sold over 600,000 copies in its first week, making it one of the most successful debut week albums in recent years. The album also took the top spot on the Billboard Charts.
The album's first single, "What I've Done" was released on April 2, and premiered on MTV and Fuse within the same week. The single was acclaimed by listeners, becoming the top-ranked song on the Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. Later in the year, the band won the "Favorite Alternative Artist" in the American Music Awards. The band also saw success with singles such as "Bleed It Out", "Shadow of the Day", "Given Up", and "Leave Out All the Rest", which were released throughout 2007 and early 2008. The band also collaborated with Busta Rhymes on his single "We Made It", which was released on April 29.
Linkin Park's touring and live shows have, among other things, included a performance at Live Earth Japan on July 7, 2007.and headlining Download Festival in Donington Park, England and Edgefest in Downsview Park, Toronto, Canada. The band completed touring on their fourth Projekt Revolution tour before taking up an Arena tour around the United Kingdom, visiting Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester, before finishing on a double night at the O2 arena in London. Bennington stated that Linkin Park plans to release a follow-up album to Minutes to Midnight. However, he stated the band will first embark on a United States tour to gather inspiration for the album. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bennington said that the band had already begun writing new material for the album. Along with writing new material for their new studio album, the entire band has also recorded two tracks for Timbaland's next album Shock Value 2.