“He was such a big megastar but at the same time he wouldn’t act like it” – MotoGP’s James Rispoli remembers his friend Keith Flint

The Prodigy frontman was much-loved by the motorcycle community

Members of the motorcycle world are remembering Keith Flint in the wake of the sad news that the dance icon and frontman of The Prodigy has died.

Flint was found dead at his home in Essex last week (March 4). “It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother and best friend Keith Flint,” said The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett and Maxim Reality in a statement.

Read More: Keith Flint, 1969-2019: the twisted face of rave, the beating heart of The Prodigy

“A true pioneer, innovator and legend. He will be forever missed. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time.” In an Instagram post, Howlett added: “The news is true. I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shell shocked, fuckin angry, confused and heart broken.”

Triggering a huge outpouring of emotion within the music industry, Flint’s death garnered just as big a response from the motorcycling world. Flint was a bike fanatic, so much so that when his own dreams of racing failed to materialise, he started his own team.

Founded in 2014, Team Traction Control began competing in the British Supersport Championship and quickly expanded to the roads of the Isle of Man TT and North West 200, among others.

“There’s no other way to say it, Keith is the coolest man on earth,” James Rispoli, who rode for Flint’s TTC outfit in 2014 and 2015, told the Independent. “He showed me how to be a showman and he taught me how to be humble.

“In the UK he was such a big megastar but at the same time he wouldn’t act like it. Like every day, if there was a fan anywhere he would never be in a rush because he would see them all, he’d be there way after things had finished because he was the type of guy that if you asked him for the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you.

“It was kind of a crazy meeting,” said American rider Rispoli of the first time met Flint at the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans six years ago. “I wouldn’t say fate or destiny or something, but it was…pretty much within the day Keith had bought me a ticket to fly back to Britain to do a one-off race at Brands Hatch and we got talking about doing the following season together, and that was kind of it. There was no negotiation, it was just a chat on the side of the track and he was like “Hey this is what I’m trying to do, would you be interested?’ and I said ‘Yeah!’

“The crazy thing is it didn’t really hit me who he was until I was flying home and I saw The Prodigy album with the crab on it (‘The Fat of the Land’), the really cool one, and I was like ‘No frickin way, I just rapped out with him, who is this guy?’.

“It was crazy because at that time I didn’t have a ride in the US and I went over to Le Mans to just have fun. It wasn’t fate or destiny but it was that easy, there was no me trying anything, we just met and made a deal.”

James Rispoli rounds the bend during the MotoGp Red Bull U.S. Indianapolis Grand Prix

Explaining how Flint helped him in a big way when he first came to the UK, Rispoli added: “I came over with two bags, I didn’t have any family or anything with me, it was just me, but he got behind me and made sure I had everything I needed.”

Remembering his first podium with Team Traction Control, Rispoli recalled Flint’s reaction.

“I remember Keith was up there and that outpouring of emotion. It felt like there was a thousand people standing there and that memory right there, I can still feel that. That was pretty special. It was so special because we put so much into it, he put so much time into it, obviously I did too. And we did it.”

Those who knew Flint or interacted with him in the days leading up to his death have begun to speak out, remembering him as “positive and proud” and “the life and soul” of his Essex pub.

But according to Rispoli, Flint’s impact reached further than the music community and his local pub.

“I don’t think – because he was so humble – that he realised how many people he touched,” Rispoli explained. “When the outpouring of tributes came out, you had these high-level people from presidents of Arai and stuff like that. He’s left a massive imprint on motorsport and it’s kind of crazy because everyone knows Keith Flint of The Prodigy, but not every knows the real him.

“For me, whenever I was around Keith it was a ‘buzz’, and that was the word: ‘buzzing’. We were always ‘buzzing’, there was never a downside really. Of course people have bad days, but I never saw that side. There was such positivity and energy and passion. Keith was like a best friend, and around me he was always so positive and everything, and that’s how I remember him and that’s how I think everyone remembers him.

“It’s a sad, tragic story but I don’t think people will look at that side. I think he touched so many people in so many ways, he carried something special whatever it was – I don’t know what it was – but he was that showman and he taught me a lot and gave me so much, he pretty much gave me everything over there.”

Meanwhile, Stereophonics yesterday revealed Flint influenced one of their songs.

Speaking to Radio X, the band’s frontman, kelly Jones said: “‘Roll Up And Shine’, actually – the first track on ‘Performance And Cocktails’ – was very much inspired by The Prodigy. ‘Fat Of The Land’ was out when [1997 single] ‘Word Gets Around’ was in the charts the same week. So that was very much inspired by that, yeah.”

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