Linkin Park was founded by three high school friends: Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson. The three attended Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, the three began to take their musical interests more seriously, recruiting Joe Hahn, Dave "Phoenix" Farrell, and Mark Wakefield to perform in their band, then called Xero. Though limited in resources, the band began recording and producing songs within Shinoda's makeshift bedroom studio in 1996, resulting in a four-track demo tape, entitled Xero. Tensions and frustration within the band grew however after they failed to land a record deal. The lack of success and stalemate in progress prompted Wakefield, at that time the band's vocalist, to leave the band in search of other projects. Farrell also left to tour with Tasty Snax, a Christian punk and ska band.
After spending a considerable time searching for Wakefield's replacement, Xero recruited Arizona vocalist Chester Bennington, who was recommended by Jeff Blue, the vice President of Zomba Music in March 1999. Bennington, formerly of a post-grunge band by the name of Grey Daze, became a standout among applicants because of the dynamic in his singing style. The band then agreed on changing its name from Xero to Hybrid Theory; the newborn vocal chemistry between Shinoda and Bennington helped revive the band, inciting them to work on new material. In 1999 the band released a self-titled extended play, which they circulated across internet chat-rooms and forums with the help of an online 'street team'. The band's renaissance culminated with another change in name, this time to Linkin Park, a play on and homage to Santa Monica's Lincoln Park (now called Christine Emerson Reed Park). The band initially wanted to use the name "Lincoln Park", however they changed it to "Linkin" to acquire the internet domain "linkinpark.com". The band still struggled to sign a record deal. Linkin Park turned to Jeff Blue for additional help after facing numerous rejections from several major record labels. After failing to catch Warner Bros. Records on three previous reviews, Jeff Blue, who had negotiated his employment contract with Warner Brothers to include signing Linkin Park, and was now the vice President of Warner Bros. Records, helped the band sign a deal with the company in 1999. Farrell returned the following year and the band released its breakthrough album, Hybrid Theory.
The New York Times' Jon Caramanica commented Linkin Park "brought the collision of hard rock and hip-hop to its commercial and aesthetic peak" at the beginning of the 2000s. Several rock and non-rock artists have cited Linkin Park as an influence, including Proyecto Eskhata, Of Mice & Men, One Ok Rock, Bishop Nehru, Misono, From Ashes to New, Bring Me the Horizon, Red, Girl on Fire, Manafest, Silentó, 3OH!3, The Prom Kings, AJ Tracey, Kiiara, The Chainsmokers, Kevin Rudolf, Blackbear, Tokio Hotel, and Stormzy.
During this time, Linkin Park received many invitations to perform on many high-profile tours and concerts including Ozzfest, Family Values Tour, and KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. The band worked with Jessica Sklar to found their official fan club and street team, "Linkin Park Underground", in November 2001. Linkin Park also formed its own tour, Projekt Revolution, which featured other notable artists such as Cypress Hill, Adema, and Snoop Dogg. Within a year's stretch, Linkin Park had performed at over 320 concerts. The experiences and performances of the precocious band were documented in its first DVD, Frat Party at the Pankake Festival, which debuted in November 2001. Now reunited with former Bassist Phoenix, the band began work on a remix album, dubbed Reanimation, which would include works from Hybrid Theory and non-album tracks. Reanimation debuted on July 30, 2002, featuring the likes of Black Thought, Jonathan Davis, Aaron Lewis, and many others. Reanimation claimed the second spot on the Billboard 200, and sold nearly 270,000 copies during its debut week. Hybrid Theory is also in the RIAA's Top 100 Albums.
In 2003, MTV2 named Linkin Park the sixth-greatest band of the music video era and the third-best of the new millennium. Billboard ranked Linkin Park No. 19 on the Best Artists of the Decade chart. The band was recently voted as the greatest Artist of the 2000s in a Bracket Madness poll on VH1. In 2014, the band was declared as the Biggest Rock Band in the World Right Now by Kerrang!. In 2015, Kerrang! gave "In the End" and "Final Masquerade" the top two positions on Kerrang!'s Rock 100 list.
Linkin Park also participated in numerous charitable events, most notably raised money to benefit victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 and later Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The band donated $75,000 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in March 2004. They also helped relief efforts for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami victims by staging several charity concerts and setting up an additional fund called Music for Relief. Most notably, however, the band participated at Live 8, a series of charitable benefit concerts set up to raise global awareness. Alongside Jay-Z, the band performed on Live 8's stage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a global audience. The band would later be reunited with Jay-Z at the Grammy Award Ceremony 2006, during which they performed "Numb/Encore", en route to winning a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. They were joined on stage by Paul McCartney who added verses from the song "Yesterday". They would later go on to play at the 2006 Summer Sonic music festival, which was hosted by Metallica in Japan.
Linkin Park embarked on a large world tour titled "Minutes to Midnight World Tour". The band promoted the album's release by forming their fourth Projekt Revolution tour in the United States which included many musical acts like My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, HIM, Placebo, and many others. They also played numerous shows in Europe, Asia, and Australia which included a performance at Live Earth Japan on July 7, 2007. and headlining Download Festival in Donington Park, England and Edgefest in Downsview Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The band completed touring on its fourth Projekt Revolution tour before taking up an Arena tour around the United Kingdom, visiting Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester, before finishing on a double night at the O2 arena in London. Bennington stated that Linkin Park plans to release a follow-up album to Minutes to Midnight. However, he stated the band will first embark on a United States tour to gather inspiration for the album. Linkin Park embarked on another Projekt Revolution tour in 2008. This was the first time a Projekt Revolution tour was held in Europe with three shows in Germany and one in the United Kingdom. A Projekt Revolution tour was also held in the United States which featured Chris Cornell, The Bravery, Ashes Divide, Street Drum Corps and many others. Linkin Park finished the tour with a final show in Texas. Mike Shinoda announced a live CD/DVD titled Road to Revolution: Live at Milton Keynes, which is a live video recording from the Projekt Revolution gig at the Milton Keynes Bowl on June 29, 2008, which was officially released on November 24, 2008.
In May 2009, Linkin Park announced they were working on a fourth studio album, which was planned to be released in 2010. Shinoda told IGN that the new album would be 'genre-busting,' while building off of elements in Minutes to Midnight. He also mentioned that the album would be more experimental and "hopefully more cutting-edge". Bennington also addressed the media to confirm that Rick Rubin would return to produce the new album. The band later revealed the album would be called A Thousand Suns. While working on the new album, Linkin Park worked with successful film Composer Hans Zimmer to produce the score for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The band released a single for the movie, titled "New Divide". Joe Hahn created a music video for the song, which featured clips from the film. On June 22, Linkin Park played a short set in Westwood Village after the premier of the movie. After completing work for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the band returned to the studio to finalize their album.
On January 19, 2010, Linkin Park released a new song titled "Not Alone" as part of a compilation from Music for Relief called Download to Donate for Haiti in support of the Haiti Earthquake crisis. On February 10, 2010, Linkin Park released the official music video for the song on their homepage. The single itself was released on October 21, 2011.
Linkin Park has sold more than 70 million records. The group's first studio album Hybrid Theory is one of the best-selling albums in the US (10 million copies shipped) and worldwide (27 million copies sold). Billboard estimates that Linkin Park earned US$5 million between May 2011 and May 2012, making them the 40th-highest-paid musical Artist. 11 of the band's singles have reached the number one position on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, the second-most for any Artist.
Living Things sold over 223,000 copies during its debut week, ranking No. 1 on the US Albums Charts. Linkin Park's single, "Castle of Glass", was nominated for 'Best Song in a Game' at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards. The band also performed at the award ceremony on December 7, but lost the award to "Cities" by Beck. Linkin Park also played at the Soundwave music festival in Australia, where they shared the stage with Metallica, Paramore, Slayer and Sum 41.
On August 10, 2013, the band collaborated with American musician Steve Aoki to record the song "A Light That Never Comes" for Linkin Park's online puzzle-action game LP Recharge (short for Linkin Park Recharge), which was launched on Facebook and the official LP Recharge website on September 12, 2013. On the day of the game's release, Linkin Park made a post on their Facebook explaining that the song used to promote the game would be included on a new remix album, entitled Recharged, which was released on October 29, 2013 on CD, vinyl, and digital download. Similar to Reanimation, the album features remixes of ten of the songs from Living Things, with contributions from other artists, such as Ryu of Styles of Beyond, Pusha T, Datsik, KillSonik, Bun B, Money Mark, and Rick Rubin. The band also worked on the Soundtrack for the film Mall, which was directed by Joe Hahn.
On November 9, 2014, MTV Europe named Linkin Park the "Best Rock" act of 2014 at their annual music awards ceremony. The band won the 'Best Rock Band' and 'Best Live Act' titles of 2014 on Loudwire's Music Awards. Revolver ranked The Hunting Party as the fourth best album of 2014. In an interview with AltWire on May 4, Shinoda reflected on The Hunting Party and commented on Linkin Park's Future, stating; "I'm really happy with the reaction from The Hunting Party, and I think we're ready to move somewhere new on the next album, which will be coming [in 2016]".
Linkin Park began working on new material for a seventh studio album in November 2015. Chester Bennington commented on the album's direction by stating, "We’ve got a lot of great material that I hope challenges our fanbase as well as inspires them as much as it has us." In February 2017, Linkin Park released promotional videos on their social network accounts, which featured Shinoda and Bennington preparing new material for the album. Mike Shinoda stated the band was following a new process when producing the album. Brad Delson elaborated: "We've made so many records and we clearly know how to make a record and we definitely didn't take the easy way out this time."
On December 17, 2017, Mike Shinoda hosted an Instagram Live video. One topic he brought up was if Linkin Park would perform with a hologram version of the late Chester Bennington. His answer was, “Can we not do a holographic Chester? I can’t even wrap my head around the idea of a holographic Chester. I’ve actually heard other people outside the band suggest that, and there’s absolutely no way. I cannot fuck with that.”
On January 28, 2018, Mike Shinoda was answering questions on Twitter. One user asked, “Mike, what will happen with Linkin Park in the Future?” Shinoda replied, “I have every intention on continuing with LP, and the guys feel the same. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, and questions to answer, so it’ll take time.”