Instantly recognisable for his fluorescent spiked hair and incendiary performances, the musician sang lead vocals on both the band’s number one singles, Breathe and Firestarter.
He was found dead at his home in Dunmow, Essex, on Monday morning.
The band, who were due to tour the US in May, confirmed his death in a statement, remembering Flint as a “true pioneer, innovator and legend”.
In a post on The Prodigy’s official Instagram account, bandmate Liam added: “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 heart broken.”
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. pic.twitter.com/nQ3Ictjj7t
— The Prodigy (@the_prodigy)
End of Twitter post by @the_prodigy
Fans and friends flooded Twitter with tributes as news of the star’s death spread.
The Chemical Brothers’ Ed Simons remembered him as “a great man” who was “always great fun to be around”.
Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley described Flint as “an absolute sweetheart” and “iconic frontman”; and dance duo Chase & Status said: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Keith and the life changing music they made and championed.”
Oh gosh, so sad to hear about Keith Flint, he was always great fun to be around and very kind to Tom and I when we first started doing shows together..great man.
— ed simons (@eddychemical)
The Prodigy were the most successful band to emerge from the acid house scene of the late 1980s.
They met at an open-air rave in 1989; where Flint approached DJ Liam Howlett and asked him for a mixtape.
Titled “Prodigy” after Howlett’s favourite synthesizer, the tape went down so well that Flint encouraged Howlett to pursue music professionally, offering up his services as a dancer.
Along with Leeroy Thornhill, they scored early hits with Everybody In The Place, Out Of Space and Charly – which sampled the dialogue from an old children’s safety film: “Always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere.”
Their music matured on their second album, Music For The Jilted Generation, which saw Howlett incorporate breakbeats, guitar loops and hip-hop samples on tracks like No Good (Start The Dance) and Voodoo People.
The album was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize – but the band truly went global when Flint grabbed the mic and unleashed the full fury of his voice on the abrasive, in-your-face rave-rock anthem Firestarter.
It knocked Take That’s How Deep Is Your Love off the top of the charts in 1996, selling more than 600,000 copies in the UK alone.
Spurred by its success, the band’s third album, Fat of The Land, went to number one in both the US and UK, selling several million copies worldwide.
Flint stepped up as a frontman, giving The Prodigy a demonic focal point for their live shows – including a notable headline slot at Glastonbury in 1997.
The band’s music faltered in subsequent years. Howlett disowned the single Baby’s Got A Temper, which included a controversial lyric about the “date rape” drug Rohypnol; while Flint recorded a largely-forgotten solo album Device #1 in 2003.
While still part of the band, he did not feature on 2004’s Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, on which vocal duties were handled by Liam and Noel Gallagher and actress Juliette Lewis, amongst others.
Five years later, Invaders Must Die heralded a return to the band’s classic sound, with Flint and Maxim back as core members. The first single, Omen, was a major success, and the band returned to festival stages and stadiums around the world.
Flint was also a keen motorcyclist and had his own team – Team Traction Control – which has won four Isle Of Man TT races.
The star had recently wrapped up a tour with The Prodigy in Australia, and was due to join them in the US in May.
In a statement, Essex Police said: “We were called to concerns for the welfare of a man at an address in Brook Hill, North End, just after 8.10am on Monday, March 4.
“We attended and, sadly, 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.”