- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- Books & Novels»
- Biographies & Memoirs
The Prodigy Biography
1990, Braintree, Essex, England.
The most successful holdover from the early-'90s rave/hardcore scene, the Prodigy initially scored with the 1991 U.K. hit "Charly" and became one of the decade's best-selling dance acts with a string of hit singles. Organized and fronted by Liam Howlett, the group also recorded acclaimed album works and toured the LPs with a stunning live show, which approximated the incendiary spirit of a rave better than any techno act.
Liam Howlett - The brain of the Prodigy.
Why "the brain?" Because he has written, produced and mixed almost all prodigy tracks and in 1989 he has founded "The Prodigy." At the beginning of his career (at age of 17) he worked as a DJ at local rave clubs in Essex. He was a DJ in act "Cut to kill", but not for long because members have dispelled him from the band. Shortly after that he bought "Roland W30 sampling workstation", his favorite keyboard and started to produce his own stuff.
Large part of "Experience" album was produced on W30 and Liam is still using it for production (paired with Macintosh in studio) and for live performing. Besides W30 Liam is using tons of keyboards, drum machines, effect units, samplers, etc. You can see the list of his equipment at equipment page.
In 1990 Liam produced Prodigy's first single: "What evil lurks." That single has been published by "XL Recordings" - First record company that "The Prodigy" have signed for. For more info about this single check out singles page.
Like other members, Liam likes snowboarding and he usually spends his "snowboard" days in Switzerland. When speaking about movies, he has a collection of horror and porn movies at his home. He has also produced track called "Titan", which was used in porn movie "The Uranus Experiment 3". This track was produced in collaboration with Rob Del Naja aka 3D from Massive Attack.
He is a big fan of fast sports cars. He owns several very expensive cars and one of them is McLaren F1 (Â£800.000 worth).
The Rage Against The Machine, Sex Pistols, Meat Beat Manifesto and The Specials are Liam's most favorite bands. Another lengthy list of his favorite bands you can find in Dirtchamber inlay.
Keith (the mad man) is also from Braintree, Essex (born on March 27, 1971). Keith comes from a broken home, and had never really wanted a proper career. Having been kicked out by his dad, he spent some time in Israel, as a market-stall trader.
He came back to the UK later, living in some accommodation in Braintree with friends, alongside Sharky. He had grown his hair long, and usually wore an Afghan coat. Because of this, he had earned the nickname Sheepdog.
Keith eventually became a big fan of raving in it's inception around 1988 and was a regular on the M25 motorway scene. He spent a lot of his time dancing in The Barn in Braintree. Having never danced before in his life, he managed to hone his dancing skills there, developing himself into the fast-paced act we know him as today.
By contrast, Keith's friend Leeroy, who he had met at The Barn, was more into calmer dancing, in the style of funk. The two were quite a contrasting pair, and Sharky would often tag along with them.
Having seen and heard local DJ Liam Howlett at the Barn, Keith managed to approach him, and got a tape of a DJ set, along with Liam's own material on the b-side created at home.
When Keith and Leeroy listened to Liam's work, they were stunned. They wanted to start up a stage act with Liam as soon as possible, with Keith, Leeroy and Sharky as the dancers and Liam as the centre of the act, at the keyboards. Liam agreed, but said he needed an MC. On the date of their first ever gig, reggae MC Maxim Reality joined them, having been recruited by the act's manager Ziggy.
Keith is the band's most popular member and is often referred to as the 'frontman' for the Prodigy, due to his new-found vocal role in 1996's Firestarter, a claim which he denies. On stage Keith is a real spectacle - a human blur most of the time, shouting, spitting, and "visually expressing" himself, as he puts it.
After the Experience era, Keith began to show the first of many changes to himself - a part of the evolultion to the Keith we know now. In 1994, he was often seen on stage wearing eyeliner, dancing to the tunes of the Jilted era.
In 1995, Keith took a big image change when he appeared on stage at the Prodigy's legendary headline slot on the second stage at Glastonbury Festival 1995. His hair was cropped short, and dyed pink. The eyeliner was more evident, as were his new facial piercings, and he danced more frantically than previously. He took to coming on stage in a giant transparent plastic ball.
By the end of 1995, reports were seeping out from Braintree that Keith had done some punk-style vocals for a new Prodigy track, called Firestarter. This was premiered at the Island in Ilford, Essex, which was followed by more UK dates, in which Keith had shaved his colourful hair into a double mohican style. Spiked up on each side, having it some kind of colour, and having it shaved in the middle.
He said "I've been screaming with my body for the past six years, so now it's time to scream with my mouth". (although he can't sing, his voice has a superb tone).
When The Fat Of The Land was released, almost half the tracks had Keith doing his snarling vocals. Thanks to the videos for Firestarter and Breathe, Keith had became an icon for 90s pop culture.
Keith is known to be every parents nightmare, and also has a lot of complaints about how scary he is. When the Prodigy's Firestater video was shown on TOTP TV a record number of complaints were sent to TOTP complaining about Keith Flint. One particular parent, in a letter to the BBC complaining about that video, have called him "a man in need of urgent medical attention". In 1996, he came second to Marilyn Manson in the Nutter Of The Year category of Kerrang's Reader's Poll.
Prior to the Prodigy Keith only seemed into round the world trips, motorcycles, festivals and raves. After school, he traveled a lot, visiting many places in Europe and the Middle-East. Keith still says today that he wouldn't know what he would be like or what he would be doing know if he wasn't in the Prodigy. Keith is the band's dancer and "singer. Keith sees performing live as his drug, hes way of getting rid of all the built up pressure inside him. He used to dance more "normal", but now he just jumps around and acts spastic that gives everyone a good laugh. He also likes to stick his tongue out a lot too.
Keith is also known to be the loudest, but most nicest member of the group. He loves danger - already when he was little, he used to play with plugs - seeing how far he'd dare to push the plug in and touch the terminal on the other end (he never got a shock)... And he announced in the summer of 1998 that he'd be competing in the superbike race called the Clubman's Race, racing at speeds up to 160mph. To this day Keith has only had one serious accident where he crashed at over 120mph hitting a barrier on the way. There are also reports of Flint being a keen gardener, and a lover of animals. If you have ever watched the "Prodigy Unauthorised" video you will even see a clip where Keiths old headmaster tells how Keith Flint used to feed the rabbit in the school playground.
He's a motorbike fan. He announced in the summer of 1998 that he'd be competing among professional racers. His first motorcycle competition was in October 1998, in which he came in 3rd (he was riding at speeds up to 160mph).
He loves danger - already when he was little, he used to play with plugs - seeing how far he'd dare to push the plug in and touch the terminal on the other end (he never got a shock)... Even in racing, he loves dangerous situations ("Every now and then you have something that's a near-death situation. I used to enjoy crashing as much as riding. " - Keith)
He's into gardening ("Or he's out digging a pond in his garden that's four feet deep and 20-odd foot long. He loves his gardening. " - Leeroy)
His grades in school were terrible, and he has no skills - so the Prodigy have helped him a lot to find what he can and want to do. As he said it, he literally walked out of the crowd to be a dancer in the band, instead of filling in some kind of application form.
When he was young: according to what his ex-schoolmates said, he was very quiet ("He was really a lovely fella, really quiet. I got the shock of my life when I saw him all these years later"), and liked animals and fishing. ("One day on the way home from school he found a sick hedgehog. Keith tried nursing it back to health but it died. He was gutted. ")
Some of his goals in life are to live out his ultimate sex experience (with a lot of chicks), have every part of his body pierced, and try all the hair colours. He has about a hundred nose rings, earings and a tongue ring. He has tattoos including one across his stomach that says "Inflicted". That very same tattoo across his body is actually the only one of its kind as it was designed by the Prodigy's main-man Liam Howlett.
What describes his personality the best are the lyrics of Firestarter, which he wrote about himself. Actually the first time he liked something he had done was when he first did Firestarter. ("For the first time I'd liked something I'd done. Not just musically, but personally. [...] I got home and I put it on and I thought: 'I fuckin'like this,' and I felt this massive wave of emotion... ")
Maxim is the oldest member of the Prodigy and his real name is actually Keith "Keeti" Palmer (don't ever call him Keith, HE HATES IT!). He went to Jack Hunt secondary school in Peterborough. Maxim was often seen at soul all-dayers at Nottingham's Rock City. During the peak of the ska movement in the early 80s, it was not uncommon to see Maxim in Peterborough town centre with his mates, trying to look like The Specials, with the all important black-suit-and white-socks look. Also in the 80s, hip-hop took off, and Maxim, one for evolving with musical trends, became quite a fan. His jaunts around local shopping precincts in the area to do breakdancing 'battles' with 'rival crews' became part of the urban tapestry in Peterborough. This had earned him his first ever TV appearance, on the regional ITV station Anglia, in the local news programme About Anglia. Maxim was also into writing poetry and verse and began MC-ing at the age of 14, when he used to watch his brother (MC Starky Ban Tan) MC-ing also on the reggae scene. Before joining up with Prodigy, he has worked as sound engineer on many reggae sound system festivals. He also was an MC for a London reggae group, who presumably sank without trace.
In 1990, Maxim was founded by friend Ziggy, who was managing a rave act in Essex, which needed an MC for their first live show. After an unexpectedly successful show, he was congratulated by Liam Howlett, who only had one criticism - he wanted Maxim to tone down the reggae-isms in his MCing - which Maxim did for the next show. During a date on their first US tour, Maxim was very ill and Leeroy Thornhill had to take over MC duties for the night. Since then, Maxim has developed his own distinct MC-ing style: short snappy lines directed toward getting the crowd going. It often difficult to interpret what he is actually saying, since it is mostly encoded in 100+ decibel screams. Maxim is the band's voice. Though he performed the vocals on some recent Prodigy tracks, his real talent is shown in his way of boosting the live shows. With him, the live songs get a feel totally different from that of the album tracks.
Like Keith, Maxim is a fan of unusual dress and make-up. That's why he is very recognisable not only by his awesome MC-ing but also his bad-ass contact lenses (back cover of the Music For The Jilted Generation album, he can be seen wearing his famous cats-eye contact lenses.) and those kilts he loves to wear! In live shows he looks very scary and he try to scare people! He had started out in Prodigy with a shaved head with a small quiff at the front, giving rise to "Tin Tin" jibes from the other band members. Since then he have had many different hair styles and variations. He's a really strange figure - for example sometimes he wears a green skirt (because it's comfortable) and has gold braces over his teeth, just to mention a few of his crazes. His aim is to appear on stage as a knight in a full suit of armour and a gauntlet, so he can scare seven shades of the brown stuff out of everyone in the audience!
Maxim, according to his own words, has always been writing music. He has filled cassettes and cassettes with music, and written tons of lyrics, yet he didn’t disclose any of his works for a very long time. He has written tons of songs and lyrics, most of which have never been released. In fall 2000 he released his own hip-hop style solo album. Maxim is married and has a child called Kai, who was born in March 1999.
Leeroy Thornhill (ex)
Leeroy Thornhill is from Essex (born October 8, 1968). Leeroy is the very tall 6' 7" (2 m.) black man. He used to be the second quietest right after Liam.
He is a football fan, a supporter of UK team Arsenal (he also played at the popstar soccer championships)
Before the formation of the Prodigy, he used to work as an electrician.
He loves playing with Playstations (e.g. with Formula One and Football games).
Leeroy was a big rave fan and hooked up with Liam through friends on the scene. He is also great dancer with incredible footwork. (Most of his dance moves come from watching James Brown videos). He makes it look real easy, but chances are you'll never be able to move like this guy. He was also into the breakdancing phase that swept the world in the mid-eighties, and would regularly equip himself with a beefy stereo, bottle of Mr. Sheen and a piece of lino and make his way out into the streets to breakdance with his mates.
Tall and normal looking compared to the rest of the band, he was just as or even crazier than the others. According to several Prodigy articles on NME and Melody Maker, he was probably the most perverted and sick one of them all. Basically he was not afraid to show his true feelings, or enjoy being in a techno band that rocks the hardest. He was definitely one to watch on stage. He really added depth to an already insane group.
Leeroy's last gig with Prodigy was Sophia, Bulgaria (August 1999). He also played a bit of drums at that gig.
Leeroy spent 10 years with the Prodigy world wide touring, live events, T.V etc.
In spring 2000 Leeroy left the Prodigy to concentrate on his own productions and re launching his DJ career which is what he had been doing for the 5 years previous to The Prodigy.
Leeroys DJing has taken him over all of Europe and Ireland and also extensively in USA. Some stand out, gigs include DJing before Finlaye Quay in London and Primal Scream gig in Dublin. Also when ever Djing alongside Coventrys infamous Johnny Mac are the best of times.
Leeroys music style is a mix of tuff breaks, old skool samples and electro known as Miami bass. A style Leeroy picked whilst touring with the Prod in mid 90's Miami. This is basically a great mash up of Party breaks full of Funk to Rock the floor and heavy on the electro edge.
Production wise Leeroy has been a very busy boy remixing and producing lots of international talent including. David Gray, Lee Scratch Perry, Kool Keith, Moby, Shades Of Rhythm, Dr. Dooom and Southern Fly. His own band Flightcrank released the first album in March 2001 to critical acclaim.
"I have been a full member of Prodigy for a brilliant nine years but I wish to concentrte fully on my own music as Flightcrank and I wish the band all the best for the future".
- Leeroy Thornhill 4th April 2000 -
Gizz Butt (ex)
Gizz Butt is Prodigy's former live guitarist. He toured with them the whole the Fat Of The Land tour and has been playing many other gigs too. He was almost the 5th member, but then Kieron Pepper replaced him. I really hope that we can see him in the live shows in near future, cause him and Keith are the most coolest and graziest dudes in the live shows. He's also in the band called Janus Stark. Before that he used to be in the UK punk bands like "Wardance" and "The Destucters". Janus Stark isn't like Prodigy's music! It's punk (and pretty good I think). Gizz is like Keith he jumps around with his guitar and make grazy noises with it. His nickname Gizz is short for Gizzard, from the character Gizzard Puke, played by Kenny Everett in his TV show. He had that nickname since he was 14. He have got two cats! One's called Pwabble and the other one's called Joe, after the Jimi Hendrix song 'Hey Joe'. Pwabble got his name from the James Bond film 'Live And Let Die': it's in the voodoo scene where the girl's about to have a snake put to her neck - and when Bond shoots the snake wielder, someone shouts 'Pwabble' for no apparent reason.
The Prodigy navigated the high-wire, balancing artistic merit and mainstream visibility with more flair than any electronica act of the 1990s. Ably defeating the image-unconscious attitude of most electronic artists in favor of a focus on nominal frontman Keith Flint, the group crossed over to the mainstream of pop music with an incendiary live experience that approximated the original atmosphere of the British rave scene even while leaning uncomfortably close to arena-rock showmanship and punk theatrics. True, Flint's spiky hairstyle and numerous piercings often made for better advertising, but it was producer Liam Howlett whose studio wizardry launched the Prodigy to the top of the charts, spinning a web of hard-hitting breakbeat techno with king-sized hooks and unmissable samples. Despite electronic music's diversity and quick progression during the 1990s -- from rave/hardcore to ambient/downtempo and back again, thanks to the breakbeat/drum'n'bass movement -- Howlett modified the Prodigy's sound only sparingly; swapping the rave-whistle effects and ragga samples for metal chords and chanted vocals proved the only major difference in the band's evolution from their debut to their worldwide breakthrough with their third album The Fat of the Land. Even before the band took its place as the premiere dance act for the alternative masses, the Prodigy had proved a consistent entry in the British charts, with over a dozen consecutive singles in the Top 20.
The Prodigy spent much of 1994 and 1995 touring around the world, and made a splashy appearance at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, proving that electronica could make it in a live venue. The group had already made a transition from the club/rave circuit to more traditional rock venues, and the Glastonbury show set in stone the fact that they were no longer just a dance group. Flint's newly emerged persona -- the consummate in-your-face punk showman and master of ceremonies for the digital-age crowd -- provided a point of reference for rock critics uncomfortable covering Howlett (whom they saw as a glorified keyboard player).
The Prodigy's incessant road schedule left little time to record, but Howlett managed to bring out the next new Prodigy single in March 1996. "Firestarter" entered the British charts at number one, though the video was almost banned due to complaints about arson fixation; many Top of the Pops viewers also complained that Keith Flint had scared their children. An unmissable guitar hook and Flint's catcall vocal antics -- his first on record -- made it a quick worldwide hit and though "Firestarter" wasn't a major success in the U.S., its high-profile spot in MTV's Buzz Bin introduced the Prodigy to many Americans and helped fuel the major-label push for electronica during the following year (though the Prodigy did reject collaborative offers from David Bowie, U2 and Madonna). In the middle of the electronica buzz, the Prodigy dropped their third album, The Fat of the Land. Despite rather obvious attempts to court mainstream rock fans (including several guest-vocalist spots and an L7 cover), the LP entered both British and American charts at number one, shifting several million units worldwide. The next Prodigy full-length was 1999's The Dirtchamber Sessions, a mix album helmed by Howlett.
The "Baby's Got a Temper" single -- one Howlett would later disown -- appeared in 2002 and soon after Leeroy Thornhill left the band. Maxim and Keith Flint were still in the band but they weren't to be found on 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Instead the album featured guest spots from Oasis' Liam Gallagher, Kool Keith, Twista, and actress Juliette Lewis. Flint and Maxim did join Howlett for a worldwide tour to support the album that launched in October 2004. Five years later, Invaders Must Die signaled a return to the rave sound of their debut, and also found both Flint and Maxim back as core members. The lead single "Omen" reached number three on the British charts prior to the album's release, and Invaders Must Die debuted at the top spot on the British album charts.