Especially for people of a certain age and from a certain musical background, the news today of the suicide at 49 of Keith Flint – lead singer of The Prodigy – is going to hit hard.
The Prodigy are a genuine dance supergroup, and while Liam Howlett is the musical genius behind the act, Keith’s distinctive dancing, relentless energy, and distinctive tattooed-and-mohicaned look was an essential part of their formula of three decades.
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
Here are five reason we’ll miss them (assuming they don’t find a way to carry on – how can they, really?) after today’s terrible news.
- They took rave to the stage – Dance music was underground stuff, made in bedrooms and played by DJs, before the Prodigy. Lame PAs – DAT tapes with the, usually female, singer miming or sometimes singing live over the top – was about as good as it got in raves. Then the Prodigy changed the paradigm overnight
- They influenced so many acts – Just off the top of my head, can you imagine the Chemical Brothers or Chase and Status existing at all without The Prodigy? The Prodigy laid down the blueprint for a harder edged, punk aesthetic in dance music, especially with 1997’s The Fat Of The Land – that was huge both stateside and in the UK (as well as many other places) – showing the world how big a dance act could get
- They made some genuinely groundbreaking music – You can always tell a groundbreaking act because everyone has their favourites. For me, it was the rambling, progressive piano riff and arrangement of “Your Love” (the flip side to huge hit “Charly”). For many, the more straightforward rave/pop crossover “Out of Space”. For many more, the playful but heavy hitting menace of “Firestarter”. We could go on. True classics, all of them
- The programmed their own breakbeats – Back in ’92 when The Prodigy first blew up in the UK it was all cut and paste. Then they appeared and showed that dance music could be composed, not just sampled and slotted together. For those of us who arrived at this scene from a “musical” background, if you like (FFS, I was listening to Lloyd Cole before the “summer of love” hit in the UK! Thanks for saving me, summer of love…), they were an antidote to the throwaway, made-in-two-minutes nature of much of the music, great though some of it was
- They stayed true to their roots – How did Keith keep that energy up? They didn’t slip into dull mediocrity (at least, never terminally…), lower the energy of their performances, or sell out – not at all. When I first heard the astonishing “Timebomb Zone” (a recent single), it sounded to me good enough to have come from the height of the ’92 underground rave scene in the UK. That is a massive complement to a band 26 years into their career. Who else has kept that uncompromising streak alive and burning so strong?
I never met Keith, but I saw them live several times, and for me personally, he died at the age I am now. I’m finding it hard to comprehend, and I’m left thinking how much work we have to do to reduce the rate of suicide (so high among men in their 40s) and the mental health of people in this industry generally.
My thoughts and those from the Digital DJ Tips team go out to his family, friends, and the band. You were one of the greats Keith, and the lead man of a band that’ll be remembered for a long time to come. RIP.
Do you have any memories of Keith or the Prodigy you’d like to share? What track will you always remember them by? Share your thoughts below.