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Musicians who struggled with mental health issues: Keith Flint (The Prodigy)

Written by on March 7, 2019

This blog is one that I really didn’t want to write. Starting out as a dancer before becoming the main frontman for rave/techno/punks The Prodigy, Keith Flint epitomised joyful exuberance and confidence whenever he was on stage. This weekend just gone he was found at his home, dead from suicide, at 49 years old.

The Prodigy became a big part of my life when their second album was released in 1994. I had heard and enjoyed their earlier work but this album just blew me away. It combined rave, techno, breakbeat, jungle and, on the immense “Their Law”, crunchy guitar riffs. The album spoke to not just dance fans, but punks and metal heads too.

Their gig at Newcastle Mayfair, in front of 1400 sweaty fans who danced from the first beat to the last will live forever in my memory. At this point of time Keith had long hair and he used to come on stage in a large, see through plastic ball. He would always end up in the crowd and a friend who came to the gig with me told of how he looked up at one point to see Keith grinning like mad at him through the ball.

The same friend was with me when we saw their triumphant performance at Glastonbury festival in 1997, where they silenced any doubters with the power of their set. Reading festival 2002 was my next time seeing them live where, although the set had technical problems, Keith’s energy more than made up for them, Another Glastonbury, in 2009, where, once more, the entire field was jumping, dancing and shouting along followed. My next gig was at the small (compared to the usual arena shows that they had been used to playing) Newcastle Academy, in 2015. This show sold out within minutes due to the demand. One of my favourite memories was crowdsurfing (as a 41 year old) and catching Keith’s eye as I was passed over the crowd’s heads to the front. Once more, he was grinning from ear to ear. As I was. What would prove to be the last time I saw the Prodigy live was later that same year. This time back in their usual sized venue, the 11000 capacity Newcastle arena. Keith once more, had everyone in the palm of his hand.

The weekend of Keith’s death, he was at a local park run where he beat his personal best time. He was photographed looking happy and nobody noticed any change in his normal behaviour. It was not long after completing this race that he returned home and took his own life.

Their seemed to be no warning signs regarding Keith’s peace of mind but often, any warning signs can be overlooked by people. Depression and any other mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. Even by friends and family who may be experiencing tough times themselves.

If you ever feel down, depressed, apathetic about life, hopeless, worthless, or just not feeling yourself, please reach out to someone. Anyone. It could make a massive difference.

Stay well.

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