There is occasionally a sinister influence in the music business when feelings are turned into tunes. It is the excruciating battle with mental illness. When Chris Cornell sadly died, the whole world wept. Chester Bennington, who was his best friend, was particularly devastated by his death; in fact, he needed Ann Wilson’s assistance to get through it.
The leader of Soundgarden has always been open about his struggles with depression and social isolation. In a way, Chester and he connected over their daily battles with their inner thoughts because he had also openly revealed his battles with anxiety and despair. In 2017, when Chris sadly committed suicide, Bennington was more affected than most people thought.
Chris and the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, have a close relationship. The singer frequently jammed with the Heart sisters at their Seattle residence throughout the 1990s. Since they were so close, Cornell had the privilege of recognizing Heart in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Since Chester was aware of Ann’s importance in Cornell’s life, he made an effort to speak with her a few weeks after Chris passed away.
Ann talked candidly to Rolling Stone about her final exchange with the deceased singer. Wilson was able to grasp his hand and calm him down right before he had to go on stage, while realizing his dread, anguish, and anxiety due to the loss of his closest buddy.
In her account of her chat with Chester Bennington just before his death, Ann Wilson wrote:
“Someone came into my dressing room and said, ‘Chester would like to talk to you’ – he was really upset. This was just a couple of weeks before [Chester] decided to take himself. So I went in. He was really a mess. So anxious and sad and had to go onstage in a minute.”
“I think that Chris’ [Cornell] departure hit [Chester] hard because he recognized the impulse. He had been hit by this news. There was a lot of fear there. I said to him, let’s breathe here and look in each other’s eyes and go, ‘We’re still here right now, let’s just do this.’ A couple of weeks later, he was gone.”
Ann was able to briefly return Chester to the present during their conversation, but it wasn’t enough to allow the singer to put up with the lingering anguish for very long. Bennington unfortunately committed suicide a few weeks after speaking to Ann, two months after Cornell had passed away. The two musicians’ deaths within a few months of one another raised awareness of mental illness.