sun 21/07/2019

Keith Flint, 1969-2019 | reviews, news & interviews

Keith Flint, 1969-2019

Keith Flint, 1969-2019

The Prodigy lose their punk brother, Keith Flint, aged only 49

Keith Flint, left, with fellow Prodigy members Liam Howlett and Maxim

It is hard to absorb the news that Keith Flint of The Prodigy has been found dead at his home in Essex. Keith Flint! The guy with the double Mohican and panda eye-liner who terrified Middle America in the video for “Firestarter”. He was ever an integral part of The Prodigy’s unstoppable live electronic dance assault and, while it’s too early to ponder such things, it’s difficult to imagine them without him.

Prior to global fame that found the band circa 1997, The Prodigy had been a breakout rave act, hitting the UK charts with hits such as “Charly”, “Voodoo People”, “Out of Space” and “No Good (Start the Dance)”. Mocked by snobby early adopters of house music, The Prodigy exploded out of Essex with their own hardcore, breakbeat-driven version of the techno sound. They were not “Balearic”. They were not Chicago house. They were Britain’s own bastardised version of new electronic dance music and they brought a crazy energy to proceedings.

Keith Flint, with floppy raver hair, a Flowerpot Man hat and pyjama-style threads, danced in the videos and at live shows. His moves in the video for “Everybody in the Place” are still a wonder to behold, encapsulating the euphoric spirit of the period. He was not a tall guy, yet he was larger than life.

After “Firestarter” and its parent album, Fat of the Land, international fame hit the band. Whereas rave culture was, by its nature, somewhat faceless and less than media-friendly, Keith Flint adopted a cartoon punk persona and became The Prodigy’s public face, whether he liked it or not. When I spoke last October to Liam Howlett, The Prodigy’s musical dynamo, he opened up about he and Keith recording his band’s most iconic song.

“With “Firestarter” me and Keith wrote it and mixed it at home, then went to the Strongroom [studio in London] to do the vocals. I brought up my equipment but couldn’t get the same sound so just used the demo. That’s the demo you hear on the track. We re-recorded all the vocals. On the way back from the studio to Essex , me and Keith played that track over and over until we got home, for an hour-and-a-half. All we knew was that two best mates had made something on top of the world. It really represented Keith. It was the first time he’d done vocals and he pulled it off.”

In the same interview, Liam Howlett repeatedly referred to Keith Flint as his brother, as family. This was echoed in tragic circumstances on Instagram earlier today when he confirmed that, “The news is true, I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend, I’m shell shocked , f**kin angry , confused and heart broken ..... r.i.p brother Liam.”

The Prodigy, who always came on like a lunatic gang, storming from country to country and city to city on an endless tour, with their increasingly industrial barrage of beats and belligerence, have lost a brother. The rest of us, although perhaps we didn't realise it until just now, have lost one of rave culture’s most totemic figures.

Below: Watch the video for "Everybody in the Place" by The Prodigy

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