Keith Flint, the fiery, intense and charismatic frontman of British dance-electronic band The Prodigy, was found dead Monday at his home in Essex, outside of London, the band said. He was 49.
“It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother and best friend Keith Flint,” the band said in a statement. “A true pioneer, innovator,
Although an official cause of death has not been confirmed as of Monday morning, Prodigy co-founder Liam Howlett said in an Instagram post that Flint killed himself over the weekend.
“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.”
Police confirmed that the body of a 49-year-old man had been found at a home in Brook Hill, northeast of London. They said the death was being treated as non-suspicious and a file would be sent to the coroner — standard practice in cases of violent or unexplained deaths. We attended and, sadly, a 49-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”
Flint was the stage persona of the band, whose 1990s hits “Firestarter” and “Breathe” were an incendiary fusion of techno, breakbeat and acid house music.
He was renowned for his manic stage energy and distinctive look: black eyeliner and hair spiked into two horns.
“A true pioneer, innovator and legend,” the band said in a statement confirming his death. “He will be forever missed.”
The Prodigy sold 30 million records, helping to take rave music from an insular community of party-goers to an international audience. They had seven No. 1 albums in Britain, most recently with “No Tourists” in 2018.
The band attracted criticism for the 1997 single “Smack My Bitch Up,” and the accompanying sex- and drug-fueled video. The National Organization for Women accused the song of encouraging violence against women, and it was banned by the BBC.
The band denied misogyny, pointing out that the song’s protagonist is revealed in the video to be a woman.
Born Keith Charles Flint on Sept. 17, 1969 in east London, he moved to east of the city to Braintree, Essex as a child, where he met Howlett at a nightclub.
The Prodigy was formed in the early 1990s, with Howlett as the producer. Originally recruited to serve as the dancer by the Prodigy, Flint became the voice and face of the group for 1997’s The Fat of the Land, which produced the hits “Breathe,” “Firestarter” and controversial “Smack My Bitch Up” on both sides of the Atlantic; The Fat of the Land reached Number One on the Billboard 200 in July 1997.
The band’s rise coincided with soul-searching in Britain over electronic dance music and its related drug culture, and the Prodigy became known as much for its anti-establishment stance as for its songs. The band members were vocal critics of the U.K.’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which banned the raves popularized in the late-1980s during the so-called Second Summer of Love.
“I’ve spent six years expressing myself with my body, shouting with my body,” Flint told Rolling Stone in 1997. “It’s like a conductor of the music. From the party scene, when a tune came on and it was your tune, I wanted everyone to know it was my tune. Yes! Fuckin’ hell! Rockin’! Just yelling at each other, dancing away. This is just an extension of that. If I could get a mike and just go, ‘Fuckin’ hell! Fuckin’ hell!’ I would do it. That is the punk-attitude, DIY aspect of the Prodigy.”
“As soon as we heard electronica, we were gone,” Flint added of the group, which emerged out of the U.K. rave scene. “We’re not electronica. It’s another package you can buy if you want to buy it and maybe impress your mates for a week — that would come, and that would go. We’re going to come and keep coming. ‘The latest electronic explosion from the U.K.!’ That ain’t us. Just come and check it out. If you like energy, if you like attitude, if you like tough beats with black rhythms with a bit of soul and a bit of realness, come and check out the Prodigy.”
Electronic duo the Chemical Brothers tweeted that Flint “as an amazing front man, a true original and he will be missed.”
Grime musician Dizzee Rascal said he had opened for The Prodigy in 2009, “and he was one of the nicest people I’ve met and always was every time I met him, the whole band were. When it comes to stage few people can carry a show like him I’m proud to say I’ve seen it for myself.”