If you were a teenager that enjoyed the alternative side of music in the ’90s then chances are The Prodigy were on your playlist. It was particularly upsetting then for me to hear the news of the death of Keith Flint in the early hours on Monday 4th March. Flint was aged just 49 years at the time of his passing. Bandmate Liam Howlett made the following statement on the bands official Instagram:
“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.”
The feeling is mutual for fans across the world.
The Prodigy first came into my life way back in 1992, when I was just 13, with their pure British rave sound and album Experience. Their music was always different, enjoyed by both the pure dance scene lovers and the kids who were more into the Grunge scene most of the time. Liam Howlett was always the man behind the music, but he knew that for his music to entertain the masses, he needed a showman or two. Up stepped his pals Leeroy, Maxim and Keith, purely as dancers at first to get the crowd going and to make their music videos way more interesting and very amusing. ‘Charly’, ‘Out of Space’, ‘Fire/Jericho’ and ‘Everybody In The Place’, all became Top 10 hits for the band in the UK.
Then, 25 years ago came Music for The Jilted Generation which Topped the UK Album Charts. This album was more experimental and merged pure dance with alternative rock and industrial styles, collaborating with the band Pop Will Eat Itself (frontman Clint Mansell would go on to write some of the greatest movie scores such as Requiem for a Dream). The Prodigy were officially huge—household names in Europe, but Keith Flint remained in the dancer/entertainer role for this album.
However, it was only when Keith Flint took over the role as frontman and vocalist for the band did The Prodigy really take the world by storm. 1997s Fat of The Land topped the billboards everywhere, including the US where it went double platinum—2.6 million copies of the record were sold there alone.
Keith brought the ferocity and magic, his snarling punk lunatic style brought something to music that had never been done before. Punk had always been about guitars, but Keith turned that idea on its head, punk was an attitude and it could be applied to any genre of music.
The local Essex boy image totally disappeared, his now iconic anti-mohawk haircut, painted black eyes and facial piercings totally flipped the Prodigy’s style on its head— these were not a band to be messed with. Their most famous song and Number 1 single ‘Firestarter’ caused controversy with its violent and confrontational lyrics—but the Prodigy were never political, they just wanted to make people dance, and dance they did.
Before this going clubbing for teenagers who liked alternative music was a bit of a drab affair with people sitting on the floor sipping cider and watching goths fling their flouncy sleeves around. The second the first beats of ‘Smack my Bitch Up’ came on though, everyone—and I mean everyone—got up on the dancefloor. Probably started a couple of fights too, but hell, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Keith and The Prodigy brought all us weirdos, freaks and geeks together.
And he never stopped. The Prodigy have continued bringing us their unique style of music right up to their latest album No Tourists in November 2018, Keith still bringing the power and the passion to their music videos and live shows that no other dance band has ever been able to match.
Keith Flint will be remembered as a Champion of London. His loss is a huge blow but his influence on music will live forever.