"There were all sorts of stories but all we saw was this very genial man": Dunmow reacts to Keith Flint's death

PUBLISHED: 08:33 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:51 07 March 2019

Keith Flint with Milly O'Connor at a Spring bank holiday event.

Keith Flint with Milly O'Connor at a Spring bank holiday event.

Archant

The Prodigy front man Keith Flint, who lived on the outskirts of Dunmow, once posted a signed CD through the letter box of a local school boy and super-fan.

Keith Flint, from Dunmow, frontman of The Prodigy. Picture: YOUTUBEKeith Flint, from Dunmow, frontman of The Prodigy. Picture: YOUTUBE

Since Keith, 49, was found dead at his home in North End on Monday, tributes have poured in for the enigmatic vocalist, with people focusing on his contribution to the dance and rave scene in the 1990s.

The video to the number one hit Firestarter, which propelled The Prodigy to fame, was banned by the BBC after parents complained it frightened children. However, accounts from local residents describe Keith as a generous and friendly man who was often spotted exercising in the area.

As a pupil at Helena Romanes School during the 1990s, Gary During, now 35, lived near Keith and described The Prodigy as his “heroes”.

When he was 16, Gary posted a CD through Keith’s letter box along with a letter calling himself a “massive fan”.

Gary said: “Keith got all his bandmates to sign it and posted it back through my door. I was buzzing when I got it. I got it out last night.

“I also met him outside his house once. He was walking his dog and I was walking my dogs and I asked him if I could have an autograph. He went inside and left me for about five minutes. He came out with a picture of him and he signed it. He did one for me and one for my little brother.

“He would always put money in the charity pot in a Felsted shop because he was a wonderful man.”

Gary has seen The Prodigy live many times and has also made a clock out of one of their records.

He said: “They were my heroes. I had a bad time when I was younger and I would just go upstairs and listen to [their music].”

Rayne resident Gary During made a clock out of one of his many Prodigy records and a lanyard from a concert. Picture: GARY DURINGRayne resident Gary During made a clock out of one of his many Prodigy records and a lanyard from a concert. Picture: GARY DURING

Dunmow resident Gareth Williams, who used to visit the Leather Bottle pub in Pleshey, which had been owned by Keith, described the musician as “genial” and “very friendly”.

“He liked nothing better than to ride his horses around the local lanes. He used to have barbeques in the garden of his pub and the children would ride his horses.

“I used to meet with a few friends on Sunday at the pub, he would sit with us and buy us drinks, he was very friendly. There were all sorts of stories but all we saw was this very genial man.”

One woman who lived near Keith and did not want to be named, said: “My husband and both sons are fans of The Prodigy and often saw him cycling in his bright green and yellow kit. Keith would always acknowledge them. He had manners and a lovely smile.”

On Twitter, Mark Gurney said in reaction to the news of Keith’s death; “Gutted, used to see him shopping at Tesco in Dunmow or out running around Felsted. Gave me goose bumps every time, thanks for the amazing memories.”

Audrey Mears, who works at Tesco in Dunmow, said: “Tesco was a sad place after hearing of Keith’s passing. A customer told me at my till. He was a regular in store. Always happy to see you and share a hug and ask how you are.”

Members of The Prodigy have paid tribute to their fellow member, describing him as a “legend.”

The tribute read: “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. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time.”

Liam Howlett, who formed the band in 1990, wrote on Instagram; “I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shell shocked, angry, confused and heartbroken.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called to concerns for the welfare of a man at an address in North End, just after 8.10am on Monday. We attended and a 49-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”

Locals took to social media to share their sadness following the news, with one user calling Keith “Dunmow’s own”.

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