Thirty Seconds to Mars arrived at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards ready to play their new single, but first, frontman Jared Leto used the stage to shout out a couple of rock’s fallen greats.
“Two artists that I had the absolute pleasure of touring with,” Leto began, speaking about none other than Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, both of which passed away over the past three months. A somber Leto shared personal memories of both, beginning with Cornell, and how Bennington (a friend of the late Soundgarden/Audioslave singer) actually sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at his funeral.
On the Linkin Park vocalist (who committed suicide July 20), Leto remarked, “When I think about Chester, I see his face, which was always smiling. I think about his heart, which he wore on his sleeve. I think about how kindly he treated [Thirty Seconds to Mars]. I think about his wife and how incredibly he treated his six children.”
After that, he asked the Los Angeles crowd to get on its feet, and wouldn’t continue until it complied. “Reach out, share your thoughts, do not give up,” he implored those suffering like Cornell and Bennington. “There is always a way forward. The biggest breakthroughs in life lie just beyond the darkest days.”
To cap off the poignant moment, the VMAs’ big screen played a snippet of Linkin Park’s performance from the 2010 edition of the award show, their single “The Catalyst,” rocked out at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory.
Watch a snippet of the tribute below.