Being the Firestarter: Goodbye Mr Flint

When heroes of your own generation die, it hits you hard. We’re used to grizzled old rock stars from the 60s and 70s checking out and taking the last tour bus to the great gig in the sky. But when the news of the passing of Keith Flint of The Prodigy appeared in my news feed, it whacked me like a tonne of bricks.

Too young. Too talented. Too full of life. But a life that has been snuffed out before his time on the musical stage was truly up.

Uniting the dance and rock tribes

The Prodigy were the soundtrack of so much of my early years. The cartoon rave of Charlie, the aural assault of Smack My Bitch Up and, of course, Keith’s finest hour – the snarl of Firestarter.

This was a band that broke the mould, bringing the two tribal camps of dance and rock together for one gigantic sweaty mosh around the dancefloors of 90s Britain.

The Prodigy had the musical brilliance of Liam Howlett, but Flint was the face of the band – all smudged coal-black eyeliner and devil horns, with the sneer and attitude of his Essex roots coupled with the raw power of the way he spat out those punk lyrics over Liam’s giant beats.

He added that performance ingredient and became their rock star – but at what cost?

The struggle of depression

Knowing that his death was self-inflicted makes the end seem even more painful – and my heart goes out to his band, his friends and his family. How do you deal with losing someone in this way? How do you quantify that this was their only choice amongst all the possibilities of life?

But it serves as a reminder of the true reality of depression and mental illness in our world. Flint had spoken openly about his struggles with depression and of his prior dependency on prescription drugs, but in an industry which expects you to ‘turn on the rock star vibes’ on demand, the pressure clearly took a toll on him.

We don’t know the reasons or the circumstances – and, truly, it’s no-ones business other than those close to him. But with so many untimely music industry deaths in recent years, isn’t it time we asked a few questions about the pressure that’s put on our stars?

Don’t suffer in silence: talk to someone

Levels of anxiety and depression are on the rise globally. The world in 2019 is a messed up, chaotic and stressful place, and if you’re susceptible to mental health issues this becomes a toxic cocktail that can have a big impact on your state of mind.

So, if you’re stressed, worried or struggling, please do talk to someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, a close friend or a health professional – just, please, don’t suffer in silence.

There’s help out there, if you need it. And there are always other choices.

You can contact The Samaritans here

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