Keith Flint: A Tribute to The Firestarter

Earlier this week it was announced that Keith Flint– the lead vocalist for 90s electronic dance band, The Prodigy– had been found dead in his home after committing suicide. 

He was 49 years old.

Keith Flint in 2009 (Image: Wikipedia)

Keith was born in the London Borough of Redbridge in 1969 and his family moved out to Essex a few years later. His early years were humble and after leaving school Keith worked as a roofer. 

It was in 1990 that Keith met Liam Howlett; a keyboard player and songwriter who’d just formed The Prodigy. The two hooked up and musical history was made. 

As The Prodigy’s blistering frontman, Keith cut an electrical, terrifying figure with his spiked hair, darkened, bulging eyes and protruding tongue. 

Keith Flint (image: Birmingham Mail)

The general public were first confronted with his intimidating avatar in 1996 with the release of ‘Firestarter’, the video for which was filmed deep beneath central London in the old abandoned Aldwych tube station.

Click below to view:

In reality Keith’s sneering, demonic persona was purely theatre and the polar opposite of his true character.

In real life he was widely known to be a kind, generous and self-deprecating soul who’d always set time aside to talk to fans and would even venture into the crowd to give his supporters a hug.

Rest in peace, Keith.

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Keith Flint 1969-2019 (image: Wikipedia)

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If you’re struggling with depression, please contact The Samaritans who are free and available 24/7

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Introducing the View From the Mirror Archive- a new contents page

To date, I’ve written and posted over 270 articles on this site.

Due to the nature of blogging software these posts get pushed further and further back as time progresses meaning it can be tricky to discover older content.

To overcome this problem I’ve developed a new contents page where links and brief descriptions of every single article can be found.

Please click here or on the link in the menu bar above to access…

Enjoy!

When Buddy came to London

Exactly 60 years ago today, the world lost an early rock and roll icon: Buddy Holly. 

Buddy Holly (image: Wikipedia)

During his short life, Buddy- who was born in Lubbock, Texas in 1936- made a huge impact on music and left a legacy which would go on to inspire and influence countless future stars. 

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In March 1958 Buddy Holly and his band, The Crickets (who were made up of Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison and Joe Mauldin) embarked upon a UK tour.

The very first show they played was on the 1st of that month and took place at the former Trocadero Cinema which was located on the New Kent Road, Elephant and Castle. 

Poster advertising Buddy Holly at the Crickets at the Trocadero, Elephant and Castle, 1958

The image below shows Buddy backstage during rehearsals at this now long-lost venue.

Buddy Holly at the Trocadero, 1958

Whilst in London, Buddy and The Crickets stayed at the Cumberland Hotel near Marble Arch. 

The Cumberland Hotel

Apparently Jerry and Joe were so impressed with the service at the Cumberland that they tipped the shoeshine boy £5- a very considerable sum at the time. 

Just over a decade later, The Cumberland would accommodate another American music legend: Jimi Hendrix.

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On the 2nd March 1958 Buddy Holly and The Crickets travelled north of the Thames to play at the Kilburn Gaumont State. 

The former Gaumont State Cinema, Kilburn High Road (image: Wikipedia)

Situated on Kilburn High Road, the building is now home to the Ruach City Church.

On the same day, the band headed into the West End to appear in a live television broadcast of ‘Live at the London Palladium’. Their set included ‘That’ll Be The Day’, ‘Oh Boy’ and ‘Peggy Sue’.  

To hear audio from that performance- along with still images- please click below:

The picture below was taken during the Palladium performance by photographer, Harry Hammond.

Thirty years later, the same image was used on posters advertising ‘The Buddy Holly Story’; a long running stage musical which opened in London in 1989. 

Buddy Holly at the London Palladium, March 2nd 1958

The 1958 UK tour was compared by a then very young Des O’Conner with whom Buddy became friends.

When Buddy said he needed an acoustic guitar for the tour bus, the pair headed to Denmark Street– aka ‘Tin Pan Alley’- where, according to Des O’Conner, the young Texan tried out “about 17 guitars”. 

Denmark Street as seen from Charing Cross Road

Buddy also visited the Whiskey A Go-Go club on Soho’s Wardour Street where the image below was snapped:

Buddy Holly at Whiskey A Go-Go, Wardour Street (image by Bill Francis, Time Magazine)

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After their first stint in London, Buddy Holly and The Crickets headed on to many other towns and cities including Southampton, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Birmingham.

On the 12th March they returned to the capital for three shows at the Croydon Davis, the East Ham Granada and the Woolwich Granada. 

The former Woolwich Granada Cinema (image: Wikipedia)

After further concerts across the country, Buddy Holly and The Crickets returned to London on the 25th of March for their final UK concert at the Hammersmith Gaumont (now the Hammersmith Apollo).

The Hammersmith Gaumont (now the Apollo) today

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Less than a year after his visit to Britain, Buddy Holly was back in the USA taking part in the Winter Dance Party Tour.

On the 2nd February 1959 he played at Clear Lake, Iowa.

Shortly after the gig, in the early hours of the 3rd February, Buddy crammed into a ‘Beechcraft Bonanza’ light aircraft alongside Jiles Perry Richardson Jr- aka the ‘Big Bopper’ – and the teenage sensation, Ritchie Valens. 

Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper

The trio had chartered the aircraft after experiencing poor weather conditions and problems with the tour buses and saw it as their best chance of getting to their next destination- Moorhead, Minnesota– as quickly as possible. 

The aircraft took off in light snow at 12.55am but quickly encountered difficulties and plummeted to the ground just after 1am.

All on board died instantly.

Buddy Holly was 22 years old. The Big Bopper was 28 and Ritchie Valens was just 17.

Please click on the clips below to hear these three musicians in their prime….

The Big Bopper: Chantilly Lace (broadcast autumn 1958)

Ritchie Valens: La Bamba (released October 1958)

Buddy Holly: It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (released January 1959)

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