Linkin Park: Lightning Success Story

Debut Album 'Hybrid Theory' Sells Millions of Copies

linkin park
Linkin Park. Photo: James Minchin.

The seeds of what would become Linkin Park were sown in Southern California in 1996 when three high school friends – drummer Rob Bourdon, guitarist Brad Delson and vocalist Mike Shinoda – decided to form a band. Soon after graduation, they completed their lineup by recruiting three more members: bassist Dave Farrell, turntablist Joe Hahn and temporary lead singer Mark Wakefield. Calling themselves first SuperXero and then simply Xero, the group began recording demos but failed to garner much interest in their songs.

Finalizing the Lineup ... and the Band Name

Xero’s lack of success spurred the departure of Wakefield, setting the stage for Chester Bennington’s arrival as the band’s frontman in 1999. The group changed its name to Hybrid Theory (a nod to the band’s hybrid sound that combined rock and rap), but after facing legal issues with another act with a similar moniker, the group chose Lincoln Park, in honor of a neighborhood park in Santa Monica, California, that the band members passed on their way to recording sessions. But once the band discovered that others already owned that domain name online, they slightly altered their name to Linkin Park.

Instant Superstars

Linkin Park released its first album in 2000. "Hybrid Theory," a reference to the group’s rejected band name, was a massive success, becoming one of the biggest debuts of all time, selling about 10 million copies in the U.S. alone and spawning several hit singles like “In the End” and “Crawling.” In the process, the band became one of the most successful acts in the fledgling rap-rock movement.

Projekt Revolution

In 2002, Linkin Park launched Projekt Revolution, a nearly annual headlining tour that brings together different bands from the worlds of hip-hop and rock for a series of concerts. Since its inception, Projekt Revolution has included diverse acts including Cypress Hill, Korn, Snoop Dogg and Chris Cornell.

Working With Jay-Z

After the release of their popular follow-up to "Hybrid Theory," 2003’s "Meteora," the band collaborated with rap legend Jay-Z in 2004 on a record called "Collision Course." The album capitalized on the trend of “mash-ups,” which is the construction of a new song out of the recognizable pieces of two existing songs, often from different musical genres. "Collision Course," a melding of Jay-Z and Linkin Park tracks, went to the top of the Billboard album charts, proving to be one of the highest-profile mash-up projects ever.

Experimenting With a New Sound

While "Meteora" represented a continuation of "Hybrid Theory’s" rock-meets-rap strategy and "Collision Course" found the group fully embracing hip-hop textures, Linkin Park’s next studio album would move away from rapping and toward atmospheric, introspective material. Though 2007’s "Minutes to Midnight" proved to be less commercially successful than the band's previous studio records, it still sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. and put four singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. In addition, the single “Shadow of the Day” enjoyed platinum sales and won the Best Rock Video award at the 2008 MTV VMAs.

'A Thousand Suns'

Linkin Park returned with "A Thousand Suns," which was released in 2010. A concept album, the record was meant to be absorbed as one complete 48-minute listening experience. The lead single, “The Catalyst,” made history by being the first song to debut atop the Billboard Rock Songs chart.

'Living Things'

Linkin Park returned in 2012 with "Living Things." The album was preceded by the single “Burn It Down.”

'The Hunting Party"

Linkin Park's 2014 album "The Hunting Party" was a return to a more guitar-oriented sound. The album has a heavier rock sound reminiscent of their early albums. 

Current Linkin Park Members

Chester Bennington – lead vocals
Rob Bourdon – drums, percussion
Brad Delson – lead guitar
David "Phoenix" Farrell – bass guitar
Joe Hahn – turntables, sampling, programming
Mike Shinoda – vocals, rapping, keyboards, rhythm guitar

Essential Linkin Park Album

"Hybrid Theory"
Though they have since refined their sonic amalgam of hip-hop and hard rock, Linkin Park harnessed their adolescent rage most potently on this debut album. The yin and yang of Bennington's melodic vocals and Shinoda's assaultive raps nicely mirror the volatile emotions of youthful disillusionment, often veering from sadness to anger within the same song.

Linkin Park Discography

"Hybrid Theory" (2000)
"Reanimation" (remix album) (2002)
"Meteora"  (2003)
"Live in Texas" (live album) (2003)
"Collision Course" (with Jay-Z) (2004)
"Minutes to Midnight" (2007)
"A Thousand Suns" (2010)
"Living Things" (2012)
"The Hunting Party" (2014)


(Edited by Bob Schallau)