Keith Charles Flint (17 September 1969 – 4 March 2019) was an English singer and member as well as one of the lead vocalists of the electronic dance act The Prodigy. Starting out as a dancer, he became the frontman of the group and performed on the group's two UK number-one singles, "Firestarter" and "Breathe", both released in 1996. He was also the lead singer of his own band, Flint.
|Born||17 September 1969|
Redbridge, London, England
|Died||4 March 2019 (aged 49)|
North End, Essex, England
Flint was born in Redbridge, London, to Clive and Yvonne Flint, on 17 September 1969. Clive Flint worked as an engineering consultant. Keith Flint was initially raised in East London, but in the mid-1970s his parents moved out to a quiet suburban cul-de-sac in Springfield, in Chelmsford, Essex. His childhood was described as unhappy, and he feuded with his parents, who parted when he was young. He attended the Boswells School in Chelmsford and moved to Braintree after leaving school. Flint was described as being a "bright boy with dyslexia" and was disruptive in class. He was expelled from school at the age of 15. Flint then worked as a roofer and later enthusiastically embraced the acid house scene of the late 1980s. Musically, Flint was a childhood fan of The Jam, and in the late 1980s he listened to bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Flint met DJ Liam Howlett at local rave club the Barn in Braintree, Essex, and said he liked Howlett's taste in music. After receiving a mixtape from Howlett, Flint came back with great enthusiasm, insisting that Howlett should be playing his tracks up on stage and that Flint, along with friend Leeroy Thornhill, would dance to them. Flint, Howlett, and Thornhill were joined by MC Maxim Reality and became the successful electronic dance act The Prodigy.
In 1996, just prior to the release of The Prodigy's third album, Flint moved from being a dancer for the group to being its frontman when he performed vocals on the hit single "Firestarter"; the accompanying video showcased Flint's new and soon-to-be iconic punk look. This trend continued with the next Prodigy single, "Breathe", on which Flint sang lead vocals, with Maxim backing him up.
The 1997 album The Fat of the Land also featured Flint's vocal contributions on the tracks "Serial Thrilla" and "Fuel My Fire". In 2002, the non-album single "Baby's Got a Temper" was released, which was written by Flint.
Flint experimented with solo projects, including his punk rock band Flint, which included remixes by Steven "Stitch" Held at The Recovery Room and Clever Brains Fryin'. Flint's debut album, Device #1, was cancelled before its release, leaving "Aim4" as their only single to be commercially released.
Flint was a keen motorcyclist. He rode 2,400 km (1,500 miles) from England to southern Spain to attend the 2007 Spanish motorcycle Grand Prix and also raced in club competitions. He rode with Lee Thompson of the band Madness. He had his own motorcycle team, Team Traction Control, which competed in the British Supersport Championship as part of the British Superbike Championship before stepping up to the British Superbike Championship in 2017. In 2015, Team Traction Control machines won two Isle of Man TT races, ridden by Ian Hutchinson. The team and Ian Hutchinson repeated their two victories again in 2016.
Flint had a tattoo across his stomach of the word "Inflicted", a reference to a lyric in "Firestarter". Flint was difficult on transatlantic flights; on one occasion he had to be restrained from kicking down the door to the cockpit. Prior to his marriage, Flint suffered from depression and an addiction to prescription painkillers. Flint kept fit by boxing and practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
In 2014, he bought and renovated the Leather Bottle pub in Pleshey, Essex, and became a popular landlord. Flint kept a jar in which customers were required to put a pound if they made a "Firestarter" joke as he lit the pub's fire. He ended his connection with the pub without explanation in 2017.
Flint lived in a listed Tudor manor house near Dunmow, Essex. He had a small flat track in his back garden, where he rode some of his motorcycles. Flint was a lover of animals and was an enthusiastic twitcher; he built a pond in his garden to attract birds and kept several dogs and horses at his home.
On 4 March 2019, just after 8:10 am, Essex Police were called to Flint's home in North End, near Great Dunmow, Essex, in response to concerns for his welfare. Flint was pronounced dead at the scene, aged 49. The police did not treat the death as suspicious. It was later confirmed at an inquest into his death he had died as a result of hanging. The coroner adjourned the inquest until 23 July for a full hearing.
Later that day, bandmate Liam Howlett stated in an Instagram post that Flint's death was a suicide. The official band website then went black with an announcement of his death, and the Prodigy cancelled all forthcoming shows.
Flint's funeral was held on 29 March 2019. There was a 1.5-mile public procession, attended by fans from around the world, followed by a private ceremony at St Mary's Church Bocking, near Braintree in Mid-Essex, attended by family and friends, including Flint's wife, Mayumi Kai, and bandmates Liam Howlett, Maxim, and Leeroy Thornhill.
It was established by the coroner's inquest on 8 May 2019 that there was insufficient evidence to conclude a suicide verdict in relation to Flint's death.
After Flint's death, fans used the hashtag "#Firestarter4Number1" on social media in a campaign to try to get the song "Firestarter" to Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart as a mark of respect for Flint and to raise awareness for male suicide in the UK.
Following his death, many musical artists and music industry figures from around the world paid tribute to Flint. Many tributes highlighted Flint's gentle temperament, illustrating a personal kindness, politeness and generosity that contrasted with his energetic and sometimes aggressive stage persona. Fellow British musician and Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay said, "What bloody tragic news. What a top fella and a great laugh. I hope they've got a quick bike for him up there.. cos he fucking sure knew how to ride one. Keith Flint... always 'balls to the wall'."
In June 2019, fashion designer Donatella Versace dedicated her spring/summer 2020 menswear show in Milan to Flint's memory. Versace, who was a friend of Flint's, dressed male models in clothing reflecting his style and they sported Flint's distinctive "Firestarter" hairstyle.
In the 2020 video game Assassin's Creed Valhalla, a bard named Keith whose appearance resembles Flint's can be found in Essex, England, as part of a sidequest titled "The Prodigy". There, the "Bishop of the Ruins" is denouncing his music as unholy. The character says the presence of the player character, Eivor, is "surely an omen", referencing the Prodigy's song of the same name; when the protesting clergyman starts a fistfight with Eivor, Keith encourages the character to "Smack my Bishop". Kristen McGorry, a writer on the game, confirmed on Twitter that these and other references were intentional tributes to Flint and the band.
On 5 August 2021, a Crowdfunder campaign was launched by music and mental wellbeing festival "Headstock" to commission street artist Akse P19 to paint a mural of Flint. The mural, which was unveiled on 9 September 2021, a day ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, is located at Beechwood Road in Hackney, near to where The Prodigy played their first gig at the Four Aces Club in 1990.
With the ProdigyEdit
- Experience (1992) (Only performed as a dancer during a live track)
- Music for the Jilted Generation (1994) (Credited as band member; does not perform)
- The Fat of the Land (1997)
- Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005 (2005)
- Invaders Must Die (2009)
- World's on Fire (2011)
- The Day Is My Enemy (2015)
- No Tourists (2018)
- England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916–2005, September 1969, vol. 5d, p. 2989
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- Association, Press (8 May 2019). "Keith Flint: not enough evidence for suicide verdict, coroner rules". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
- Colothan, Scott. "Prodigy fans launch 'Firestarter for Number 1' campaign in memory of Keith Flint". Kerrang! Radio. Planet Radio. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- Reilly, Nick (4 March 2019). ""My heart is broken for him": Sex Pistols icon Johnny Rotten pays tribute to Keith Flint". NME. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- @petetong (4 March 2019). "Sad to wake up to the news that we lost Keith Flint, a true original. The Prodigy have made a huge contribution to dance culture and electronic music around the world. Keith's contribution as the band's iconic front man was immense and he will be dearly missed R.I.P xx" (Tweet). Retrieved 10 March 2019 – via Twitter.
- Snapes, Laura (5 March 2019). "Stars pay tribute to Keith Flint: 'A powerhouse of energy and attitude'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- Savage, Mark (4 March 2019). "Keith Flint: Stars and fans recall the Firestarter's soft side". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "Jamiroquai Official IG on Instagram: "What bloody tragic news. What a top fella and a great laugh. I hope they've got a quick bike for him up there.. cos he fucking sure knew…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
- Conlon, Scarlett (17 June 2019). "Donatella Versace pays homage to the Prodigy's Keith Flint in Milan". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
- "Liam Gallagher dedicates 'Champagne Supernova' to Keith Flint during blistering Glastonbury set". Nme.com. 29 June 2019.
- "Assassin's Creed Valhalla Has a Surprising Reference to the Prodigy".
- McGorry, Kristen [@The_Gamebird] (21 November 2020). "As the writer this makes me so happy. Glad you found and loved it. A little tribute from all The Prodigy's Bulgarian fans (and this English one)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Eede, Christian (5 August 2021). "Keith Flint mural proposed for London in new CROWDFUNDER". DJ Mag. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
- "Flint + The Prodigy". Discogs. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- Keith Flint discography at Discogs
- Keith Flint at IMDb
- Keith Flint: Stars and fans recall the Firestarter's soft side. BBC News. Published 5 March 2019.