Keith Flint, the frontman of pioneering British electronic group The Prodigy, has been found dead at his home aged 49, the band has confirmed.
Flint’s distinctive appearance, vocals and dancing made him one of the most recognizable figures on the British electronic scene, with hits including “Firestarter” and “Breathe” propelling the group to commercial success throughout Europe and the United States.
His bandmate Liam Howlett wrote on Instagram that Flint died by suicide.
“The news is true, I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend,” Howlett wrote on the group’s official Instagram profile. “I’m shell shocked, f****n angry , confused and heart broken,” he added.
Police had earlier confirmed that a 49-year-old man was found unresponsive at his house in Essex, England, on Monday morning. His next of kin have been informed and the death is not being treated as suspicious, the police statement added.
Known for his colorful double mohawk, tattoos and animated, erratic performances, Flint became a defining figure of 1990s British music.
‘Pioneer, innovator, legend’
He joined The Prodigy soon after its formation by Howlett in 1990, quickly helping the group cement its stature within Britain’s rave scene and pioneer the Big Beat genre of electronic music.
The band’s fusion of techno, breakbeat and acid house sound and their subversive, anti-establishment lyrics brought them commercial success and critical acclaim.
The Prodigy’s second album, “Music for the Jilted Generation,” earned the group its first of seven UK number one albums when it was released to positive reviews in 1994. Flint and his bandmates built on that success three years later, when “The Fat of the Land” went platinum in both the US and Britain, topping the charts in both countries.
The band’s signature hit, “Firestarter,” was one of several landmark British songs honored at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Its last album, “No Tourists,” was released in November, and the group had recently announced a 2019 tour of festivals in Europe and South America.
“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,” the group wrote in a separate post on Twitter. “We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time.”
Tributes pour in
The Prodigy became the first dance group to headline the UK’s illustrious Glastonbury Festival in 1997 and were set to play the festival again this year, Emily Eavis, its organizer, said on Monday.
“We are so saddened to hear about the passing of Keith Flint,” Eavis wrote on Twitter, leading social media tributes to the star on Monday. “What an incredible frontman,” she said, calling their landmark set in 1997 a “huge, unforgettable moment.”
Ed Simons of British electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers also paid respects to Flint on Twitter, calling him a “great man.”
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Keith and the life changing music they made and championed,” electronic group Chase & Status added, while British radio presenter Jo Whiley wrote: “Whenever our paths crossed he was an absolute sweetheart. Really lovely. Incredible iconic frontman with a soft centre.”
Rock group Kasabian described him as a “beautiful man” and an “incredible pioneer.”
And British rapper Dizzee Rascal shared the video for Firestarter, writing: “I remember when this video came out and I thought f*** this guy is a lunatic!… Then I opened up for the Prodigy in 2009 at Wembley and he was one of the nicest people I’ve met.”
Flowers were also laid at the gate to Flint’s Essex home on Monday afternoon.