I became aware of Keith Flint and The Prodigy in the early-mid 90s – first hearing Out Of Space over the speakers in a shop in town.
The band were achieving huge success with their albums Experience and Music For The Jilted Generation by this point. They were a unique clash of punk in a rave-scene generation, dark, noisy electronic rock. And it sounded incredible.
But it wasn’t until Firestarter was released that I got to see who The Prodigy were visually – which was later down the line in 1996.
I can still remember sitting at home watching MTV and that video playing. Keith Flint was mesmerising to watch.
He was the perfect front-man.
The album which followed, The Fat of the Land, became one of my favourites – and still is to this day.
The Prodigy were in their prime when I was at an age where I started falling in love with music, and that’s why I think they’re so important to me and to countless others of the same generation.
But they were pivotal to British culture at the time – if you think early 90s rave scene, you think The Prodigy – and they will be forever immortalised in the fabric of music and club culture of that time.
Lots of prodigy played in this house today, Fat of the Land was, is and will always be one of my favourite albums of all time. So so many memories of listening to it pretty much constantly in my late teens. A sad loss and a reminder of how depression can hit ANYONE pic.twitter.com/z7zt5hoNdp
— DFoz (@DbFoz) March 4, 2019
Fast-forward 23 years from watching Firestarter on MTV, and I’m watching that same video full of sadness after hearing about Keith’s death.
The reaction that has followed in the last few hours shows how important he – and his music – was to so many people.
In a statement, Keith’s band mates call him a ‘true pioneer, innovator and legend’, and they are right.
The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett also posted a photo on Instagram and revealed the cause of death was suicide.
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, fuckin angry, confused and heart broken… r.i.p brother Liam.
Keith, who was open about his experience with drug addiction and depression, was found dead at his home in Dunmow, Essex, on Monday morning (March 4).
It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother and best friend Keith Flint. A true pioneer, innovator and legend. He will be forever missed.
We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time. pic.twitter.com/nQ3Ictjj7t
— The Prodigy (@the_prodigy) March 4, 2019
Keith had an ‘unhappy childhood in Braintree, Essex’, and was described as a bright boy with dyslexia. He worked as a roofer before meeting Liam Howlett at an open-air rave in 1989, which changed the course of his life.
All but one of The Prodigy’s studio albums reached number one in the UK charts, including a greatest hits singles collection released in 2005.
And it was the tour that followed the release of Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005, that I went to see them play live in Nottingham – easily the most exciting gig I’ve ever been to.
The energy and electricity in that arena was like nothing else I’d experienced from a live music show – and Keith was a big part of that.
The Prodigy were also one of those bands that most people enjoyed, whether you were into dance, or rock and metal.
They’ve continued to influence successful artists today, including Chase and Status, who said they wouldn’t ‘be here’ if it weren’t for Keith, and The Prodigy.
Absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news that the legend Keith Flint from @the_prodigy has passed away. Our thoughts & condolences are with all his friends and family.
We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Keith and the life changing music they made and championed. RIP.
Absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news that the legend Keith Flint from @the_prodigy has passed away. Our thoughts & condolences are with all his friends and family. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Keith and the life changing music they made and championed. RIP 💔
— Chase & Status (@chaseandstatus) March 4, 2019
Stepping aside from his musical influence, Keith’s image was as captivating as anything else.
The reverse dyed mohawk, punk-inspired clothes, heavy eyeliner, piercings, tattoos, Keith stood out, especially in the dance scene.
Until today I knew little of the man behind it all. But I’ve taken great pleasure in reading people’s accounts of meeting him, and knowing him personally.
Described as a humble man and an ‘absolute sweetheart’ who loved the countryside and who loved his dogs.
Tales of his time as a landlord at The Leather Bottle have filled social media. Keith owned the Essex pub, and guests have been sharing their fond memories of visiting.
Steve Anglesey says Keith kept a swear box above the fire, so whenever he put wood on it and if someone piped up with the obvious joke, he’d ‘point to it and charge them a quid’.
Keith Flint kept a swearbox above the fire in the pub he used to own (The Leather Bottle in Pleshey, Essex). Whenever he put the logs and kindling in and someone piped up with the obvious joke, he'd point to it and charge them a quid. RIP. pic.twitter.com/lEYZPXfrFj
— Steve Anglesey (@sanglesey) March 4, 2019
He achieved a lot in his 49 years on Earth, and he leaves having made a difference to the lives of countless people like me.
Sadly, there is no other Keith Flint, and there will be nobody like him.
We’ve lost an icon.
Rest in peace, Keith.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.