Perhaps the greatest revelation from the reemergence of Chester Bennington's first band, Grey Daze, is that Chester was pretty much always that good.
One of Chester's final projects was reuniting Grey Daze to rework and eventually re-release the band's best material. While he never got to redo vocals for the Grey Daze's forthcoming album, Amends (due April 10), his performances as a teen and young adult were so strong, there ultimately was no need.
"He showed up and he was all of 90 pounds soaking wet," Dowdell says. "He had this tight curly hair, he was wearing glasses and my arrogant attitude, I'm looking at him going, 'You don't look like the rock star I'm looking for...'
"But then he sang and he blew the doors off the place. He was so good at 15 years old. He had this raw talent that we all know now."
Chester nailed his audition, but he was so young that he still needed permission from his parents to join the band. He asked Dowdell to come over and help him convince his dad.
"I said sure, thinking I'm this much older guy — I'm two years older than him," Dowdell recalls. "You know [Lee Bennington] is a police lieutenant ... So he comes out in his police uniform and he was actually really open to listening."
Lee was mostly concerned with making sure his son wasn't going to lose focus on school. Once Chester was in the band, his parents were extremely supportive.
"Of course all the kids would get scared because his dad would pull up [to shows] in a cop car... His parents were really good people."
Grey Daze was successful in Arizona but imploded by 1998 before it could make a national push. A mutual associate connected Chester with Linkin Park, and we all know what happened next.
But Chester and Dowdell rekindled their friendship a few years later. In the 2000s, the two became partners in Dowdell's Club Tattoo brand. In 2017, Chester suggested getting Grey Daze back together. He died a few days before the band's first rehearsal in almost two decades years.
Though Chester didn't live long enough to finish Amends, with the support of his widow Talinda — and a number of special guests — his band mates arrived at something they're sure Chester would appreciate.
"The music was very important to me on a very deep level," Dowdell says. "I don't care if a million people listen to it or two people listen to it, I am just happen that I completed it with the band members and we did it the way that we had set out to do and it's something I think Chester would be very proud of had he been alive."
Check out the full Out of the Box interview in the video player above.
(Thumbnail Photo: Getty Images)
Here's the official music video for Grey Daze's "What's In The Eye":