The Prodigy’s Keith Flint Dies Aged 49
5 March 2019 Entertainment
The Prodigy singer Keith Flint has died aged 49.
Instantly recognisable by his fluorescent spiked hair and known for high-octane performances, Flint sang lead vocals on both the band’s number one singles, Breathe and Firestarter.
He was found dead at his home in Dunmow, Essex, on Monday morning.
The band, who were due to tour the US in May, confirmed his death in a statement, remembering Flint as a “true pioneer, innovator and legend”.
In a post on The Prodigy’s official Instagram account, bandmate Liam Howlett added: “I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend.
“I’m shell-shocked… angry, confused and heartbroken.”
It emerged on Tuesday that Flint took part in a 5km park run in Chelmsford two days before his death.
Organisers of the run said he posted a personal best time of 21 minutes 22 seconds and said they “wished he could have been part of our parkrun community for longer than he was”.
Fans and friends flooded Twitter with tributes as news of the death spread.
The Chemical Brothers’ Ed Simons remembered him as “a great man” who was “always great fun to be around”.
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BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley described Flint as “an absolute sweetheart” and “iconic front man”. Dance duo Chase & Status said: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Keith and the life-changing music they made and championed.”
And TV personality Gail Porter, who dated Flint in the late 1990s – when the three members of the Prodigy were all in relationships with poster girls of “ladette culture” – later tweeted the single word “Heartbroken”.
Singer James Blunt said The Prodigy star had showed him kindness when others in the industry did not.
Blunt tweeted about an awards show “years ago” when, he said, some artists declined to be pictured with him, adding: “Keith Flint came over, gave me a hug, and said how thrilled he was for my success.”
He wrote: “Keith, I only met you once, but I shed a tear at the news of your death. In our business, there are no prizes for being kind, but if there was, that Grammy would be yours.”
Born Keith Charles Flint on 17 September 1969, the singer had an unhappy childhood in Braintree, Essex, feuding with his parents, who split when he was young.
A bright boy with dyslexia, he was disruptive in class, and was thrown out of school at the age of 15.
Finding work as a roofer, he immersed himself in the acid house scene of the late 80s – meeting Howlett at an open-air rave in 1989.
Impressed by Howlett’s DJ skills, he approached him and asked for a personalised mixtape. Howlett obliged, scoring the word “Prodigy” on the cover in reference to his favourite synthesiser and putting a selection of his original songs on the B-side.
Flint was so impressed that he encouraged Howlett to pursue music professionally, offering up his services as a dancer.
“I loved his music and, ‘Boom!’ I was in,” he told FHM magazine.
“I was never the brains behind the band – that was always Liam. But together we were a complete package. It was the outlet I was looking for.”
Completed by Leeroy Thornhill, The Prodigy scored early hits with Everybody In The Place, Out Of Space and Charly – which sampled the dialogue from an old children’s safety film: “Always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere.”
Their music matured on their second album, Music For The Jilted Generation, which introduced new band member MC Maxim and saw Howlett incorporate breakbeats, guitar loops and hip-hop samples on tracks such as No Good (Start The Dance) and Voodoo People.
The album was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize – but the band truly went global when Flint grabbed the mic and unleashed the full fury of his voice on the abrasive, in-your-face rave-rock anthem Firestarter.
The lyrics – “I’m the firestarter / Twisted firestarter“ – were the first he’d written for the band.
“It didn’t really have anything to do with starting fires,” he told the BBC in 1996.
“It was when you’re in front of 5,000 people and you can go out there – and just with the aid of the music and a visual performance, you can stir all them people up into a frenzy and that’s almost like starting a massive fire, or a riot.”
Firestarter’s black-and-white video, featuring a headbanging Flint in an abandoned Tube station, was blacklisted by the BBC after it was shown on Top of the Pops and parents complained it had frightened their children (a truncated version was shown subsequently).
Despite that, it knocked Take That’s How Deep Is Your Love off the top of the charts, in 1996, selling more than 600,000 copies in the UK alone.