No other nu-metal band of the rap/rock generation has garnered as much attention and success as Southern Cali's Linkin
Park, who actually started out in 1996 as the heavy metal outfit Xero. Featuring high school pals Brad Delson (guitar), Mike
Shinoda (vocals), Rob Bourdon (drums), and Darren "Phoenix" Farrell (bass), the group's lineup was later completed by a DJ,
Joseph Hahn (whom Shinoda met at a Pasadena art school), and a second vocalist, Chester Bennington.
Due to legal reasons, Xero were forced to switch their moniker to Hybrid Theory, then finally to Linkin Park (a deliberate
misspelling of the Santa Monica, California landmark Lincoln Park, thought up by Bennington). Under their new name, Linkin
Park soon earned a reputation in L.A.'s local scene, becoming a regular attraction at the legendary Sunset Strip club the
Whisky A Go-Go. After being passed over by various record labels several times, they finally caught the attention of Zomba
Music Publishing's Jeff Blue, and then landed a recording contract with Warner Bros. in late 1999.
With the finishing touches of producer Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Eve 6, Tracy Bonham, Lit), Linkin Park released their debut album in fall 2000, titling it after their former band name, Hybrid Theory. Debuting in the U.S. top 20 in November 2000, the album received rave reviews for its powerful, eclectic fusion of post-grunge
metal, old-school hip-hop, and electronic stylings, and garnered heavy radio rotation for the hit singles "One Step Closer,"
"Crawling," and "In The End." By this time, founding member Farrell, who had left the group a year earlier, wisely decided
to rejoin as its sixth member, and LP's popularity continued to escalate steadily. The group even soon won the favor of MTV's
pop-oriented TRL crowd.
Linkin Park toured nonstop after the release of Hybrid Theory, playing a total of 324 shows in 2001, including such
major tours as Family Values and Projekt Revolution. They moved to headlining status within a year, and by early 2002 had
earned three Grammy nominations, for Best Rock Album, Best New Artist, and Best Hard Rock Performance. Hybrid Theory
eventually went eight times platinum, becoming the top-selling album of 2001 and the fifth-best-seller of 2002.