Keith Flint, the double-mohawked lead singer and founding member of the controversial British rave band The Prodigy, was found dead in Essex, England, today, his death apparently by suicide. He was 49.
“The news is true,” wrote Prodigy co-founder Liam Howlett on The Prodigy’s Instagram page today. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shell shocked, f*ckin angry, confused and heart broken ….. r.i.p brother.”
After shooting to UK notoriety in 1996 with its BBC-banned video for hit “Firestarter,” The Prodigy rose to greater fame the following year with its third album The Fat of the Land, which rose to the top of the charts in both the United States and the UK largely on the strength of the No. 1 hit single Breathe.
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Another track from the album drew even greater attention: “Smack My Bitch Up” was condemned by the National Organization for Women, the Beastie Boys, and was banned by the BBC (though an instrumental version, without the offending lyric, received radio play). Howlett insisted that the title was slang for “doing anything intensely.”
Though The Prodigy never achieved its UK level of fame in the U.S., the band’s music drum-and-bass heavy music found its way onto many TV soundtracks, including The Sopranos, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Gotham, Lucifer, Hawaii Five-0, Teen Wolf and many others.
No word on whether The Prodigy will proceed with an upcoming U.S. spring-summer tour. On Monday, the band’s website simply notes, “It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother Keith Flint who sadly took his own life over the weekend. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time.”
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