Inside Keith Flint’s tragic death – drugs, ‘horrible’ mistake and chilling joke

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Keith Flint made a lasting mark on the music industry.

As dancer-turned-frontman of electronic band The Prodigy, Keith made his name performing on the group’s two biggest hits, Breathe and Firestarter, back in 1996.

The band were the first dance act to ever headline on Glastonbury's iconic Pyramid Stage just a year later.

The star was just 49 years old when he was found dead at his Essex home in May 2019.

To commemorate what would have been his 51st birthday, we take a look into the tragic circumstances surrounding his death – from the recently unveiled memorial to his legacy to his drug use before his hanging.

Mental health struggles

Keith had spoken in the past about the "dark period" he had suffered in the early 2000s.

Speaking to FHM, the star confessed: "It was a dark period… I was drinking and taking too many drugs.

"The problem is, you’ve got s**tloads of cash and s**tloads of time and all you’re doing is looking for a buzz.

"I got to the point where I had to stop. I didn’t want to be a jabbering wreck."

In that same interview, Keith said aged 46 that he always thought "when I’m done, I’ll kill myself".

But he said it’s not "suicidal" – and instead "definitely a positive thing", as he would rather die than "start s***ing the bed".

Drug use

After opening up about his own drug use in the past, Keith was found to have unspecified amounts of cocaine, alcohol and codeine in his system at his time of death.

Keith had explained in the past that he felt as though drugs helped him when he was "lost", explaining in an interview with record producer Richard Russell back in 2014: "My entry into rave culture was when I came back from travelling.

"I was a bit lost, had no house, was sleeping on a friend’s sofa. Her mate came around telling me about rave parties at The Barn."

Keith elaborated: "It was a local club people used to go to. She spoke about it with such enthusiasm and passion, I thought I've got to be a part of it.

"The next Friday, I went to The Barn, took some acid, took some ecstasy and never looked back."

Hanging

It was established in May 2019 that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that Keith’s death had been a suicide.

Police were initially called to his North End property in Essex on March 4th, 2019, at 8:10 in the morning, in response to concerns for the star’s welfare.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his death was said to have no suspicious circumstances.

At the inquest held after his death, Keith was ruled to have died by hanging, but Senior Coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray, recorded an open conclusion to his death.

In her statement, she announced: "We will never quite know what was going on in his mind on that date.

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"I've considered suicide. To record that, I would have to have found that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Flint formed the idea and took a deliberate action knowing it would result in his death.

"Having regard to all the circumstances I don't find that there's enough evidence for that."

She added that he may simply have been "larking around" when "it all went horribly wrong".

However, despite the official inquest verdict, Keith’s bandmate Liam Howlett later confirmed that their late frontman "took his own life" in a tribute to the star.

To the official Prodigy Instagram page, Liam wrote: "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, f***ing angry, confused and heart broken… RIP brother, Liam."

The band announced that they had cancelled all upcoming shows at the time, including a booking at Glastonbury, to mourn the loss of their frontman.

On Twitter, the band also reached out to anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts, penning: "It has been a tough time for everyone over the last few weeks since Keef’s passing.

"If you are struggling with depression, addiction or the impact of suicide, please do not suffer in silence. The Prodigy fully support the campaign to improve mental health for all."

Funeral

Fans lined the streets for Keith’s funeral in March 2019, as a horse-drawn carriage carried the late star’s coffin to St Mary’s Church in Bocking, Essex.

The coffin was topped with a green microphone as a nod to his prolific music career.

Bandmates Liam Howlett, Maxim and Leeroy Thornhill all attended the ceremony, and were met with cheers at the service, while speakers were set up outside the church to allow fans to hear the service inside.

Keith’s wife Mayumi Kai was in attendance, along with Cyrus – his beloved German shepherd.

Fans travelled from as far as Australia to attend the jam-packed ceremony.

The 1.5 mile procession was even attended by local schools, which closed at midday to account for the traffic building up around the venue.

Glastonbury tribute

The Prodigy made their name at the iconic Glastonbury music festival – becoming the first ever dance act to headline the famous Pyramid Stage in 1997.

Though the band were forced to cancel their 2019 Glastonbury occasion, Keith’s tragic passing did not go unmarked.

The Chemical Brothers paid tribute to the late frontman after their own set on the Saturday night of the concert, with photos of Keith appearing on the stage-side screens alongside the messaged: "In memory, Keith Flint, 1969-2019."

The dance duo, comprised of Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands, told Sky News how important it was to commemorate their late friend at the event.

Ed Simons said: "He was a friend of ours and was always really kind to us. Glastonbury was a big place for The Prodigy.

"It just felt like giving people an opportunity to give him a round of applause, to mark his memory and reflect on the sadness of what happened, and to say thanks."

That same year, former Oasis star Liam Gallagher also dedicated his rendition of Champagne Supernova at Glastonbury to the late frontman.

Legacy

Keith’s legacy will surely be a lasting one – and his fans want his passing to be able to help others suffering with suicidal thoughts.

In the aftermath of his death, fans banded together to form the hashtag #Firestarter4Number1 on social media, in a bid to get the 1996 hit to Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart.

The move helped to raise awareness of male suicide in the UK, and the song soared to new heights – entering the dance charts for the very first time on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Digital Songs Sales chart in March 2019.

Fans also petitioned to create a statue of Keith Flint in the band’s hometown of Braintree, Essex – with the District Council voting in favour of further discussions for the project in 2019.

Band co-manager John Fairs told the council that he and Keith’s family would not oppose the statue as long as it was done "tastefully, and not a literal image of Keith".

Despite this, the statue has not yet been erected.

However, a sweet mural of Keith was unveiled at his hometown football club of Braintree Town FC in October that year, with street artist David Nash – AKA Gnasher – crafting a mural of the frontman’s face in turquoise and purple paint.

The impression of Keith could be seen with his mouth open and tongue piercing visible as he performed on stage.

In September 2021 a mural featuring the frontman's likeness was revealed in Hackney, London, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, featuring a helpline number for those suffering with suicidal thoughts.

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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