Date of Birth: 17 September 1969, Redbridge, London, UK
Birth Name: Keith Charles Flint
Nickname: Keith Flint
Though he did not write the songs, Keith Flint’s demonic, hyperactive performances as the Prodigy’s dancer, singer and frontman made him one of the most charismatic and recognisable figures in British pop music.
Flint became the public image of the Prodigy with his unique horn-like hairstyle, body piercings and tattoos (including the word “inflicted” etched on his stomach), and ferocious vocal delivery.
The group’s live appearances harnessed the massed euphoria of the rave scene they grew out of with ferocious hard-rock energy, and it proved an intoxicating mix for audiences around the world. In the video for Firestarter (1996), the Prodigy’s first UK No 1 single, Flint’s Captain America shirt and black-rimmed staring eyes, coupled with speeded-up editing, created an aura of frenzied intensity. After being shown on Top of the Pops, it was banned by the BBC, which deemed it too frightening for children.
The high point of the Prodigy’s heady streak of success was their third album, The Fat of the Land (1997), the second in their remarkable streak of six consecutive UK chart-topping studio albums (or seven, if the 2005 compilation Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005 is included).
It topped the charts in nine countries including the US on the way to selling 10m copies worldwide, and was the most potent specimen of the Prodigy’s knack for mixing elements of the UK’s house and electronica styles with beats crushing enough to pull in the rock crowd. The album included three of the band’s biggest singles, Smack My Bitch Up, Breathe (another UK chart-topper) and Firestarter.
It was an almost impossible act to follow, but the Prodigy nonetheless kept scoring high international chart placings with Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004), Invaders Must Die (2009), The Day is My Enemy (2015) and their most recent release, No Tourists (2018). “We never sat down and looked at the music scene and decided to go for a rock crowd,” said Flint. “But I’m up for anything … I wanna shake those bastards’ brains out and have ’em screaming and jumping around by the end.”
Keith was born in Redbridge, east London, to Clive and Yvonne Flint. In the mid-1970s the family moved to Springfield, Essex, and Keith attended the Boswells school in Chelmsford. He recalled spending a lot of time listening to the Jam in his youth. He was dyslexic and struggled at school, which he left at the age of 15 and moved to Braintree, where he worked as a roofer.
It was in the town’s rave club the Barn that he first met Liam Howlett, who was the club’s DJ as well as a gifted keyboards player and songwriter. Flint was impressed when he heard Howlett’s tapes of mixes and some of his own songs, and the first version of the Prodigy came together when Flint and Leeroy Thornhill devised new dance moves to Howlett’s music. The lineup was completed by the MC and vocalist Maxim Reality (real name Keith Palmer) and the female dancer and singer Sharky.
They played their first gig at the Four Aces club, in Dalston, east London, and Howlett began hawking around a demo of 10 of his songs which secured the group a deal with XL Recordings. The EP Where Evil Lurks was released in 1991, but Sharky left the group shortly afterwards. Their next release, the single Charly, sampled extracts from the “Charley Says” animated information films produced by the government’s Central Office of Information in the 70s.
It caught the burgeoning tide of the UK rave scene and climbed to No 3 on the UK charts. As well as Charly, their first album, Experience (1992), contained the hits Everybody in the Place, Fire/Jericho, Out of Space and Wind It Up (Rewound). Thanks to a relentless schedule of touring, where Flint’s manic performances were the visual focal point of the group’s live shows, the album soon clocked up 100,000 sales.
In 2002, Flint commented: “I look back on our early days very fondly. We were doing something really special. It was a time of ignorance, innocence and no concessions towards a perceived commercial success and the ugly side of what we do.” Their follow-up album was Music for the Jilted Generation (1994), which gave them their first trip to the top of the UK charts.
Outside the band, Flint found time to indulge other enthusiasms. He kept fit by boxing or practising jiu-jitsu and was an enthusiastic motorcyclist who often rode with Lee Thompson from Madness.
In 2007 he rode 1,500 miles across Europe to attend the Spanish motorcycle grand prix in Jerez. He created Team Traction Control, his own motorcycle team, which raced in the British Supersport Championship and won two events in the 2015 Isle of Man TT races.
He took great pride in restoring the listed Tudor manor house with 10 acres of land that he had bought near Felsted, Essex, and even purchased the surface of a street in Bristol to obtain the right sort of cobbles for his driveway.
Date of Birth: 10 September 1933, Hamburg, Germany.
Birth Name: Karl Otto Lagerfeld
Nickname: Karl Lagerfeld
As one of the most prolific and admired designers of modern times, Lagerfeld’s influence on the fashion industry is unparalleled. Known fondly in fashion circles as “the Kaiser” thanks to his German heritage, he was famously uncompromising in his design vision, once declaring: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
Karl Otto Lagerfeld was born (it’s thought) on this day in Hamburg to Otto, a businessman who imported evaporated milk, and Elizabeth, a lingerie salesperson, although his true age remains a mystery to this day.
Lagerfeld was known to misrepresent his birth year, claiming to be younger than his actual age, and to misrepresent his parents' background. For example, he claimed that he was born in 1938 to "Elisabeth of Germany" and Otto Ludwig Lagerfeldt from Sweden. These claims have been conclusively proven to be false, as his father was from Hamburg and spent his entire life in Germany, with no Swedish connection. There is also no evidence that his mother Elisabeth Bahlmann, the daughter of a middle-class local politician, called herself "Elisabeth of Germany". He was known to insist that no one knows his real birth date. In an interview on French television in February 2009, Lagerfeld said that he was "born neither in 1933 nor 1938"
Expressing an interest in fashion and art from a young age, Lagerfeld went to a private school in Germany before attending Lycée Montaigne, a secondary school in Paris, where he majored in history and art.
Lagerfeld began his career as an assistant to Pierre Balmain in 1955 and joined Chanel in 1983, spending 36 years at the house. In the interim, he has also held long-term design positions at the Italian house Fendi, the French house Chloé, and established his eponymous brand. He is credited with reinventing Chanel, taking it from a small house to an industry leader.
Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour said: “Today the world lost a giant among men. Karl was so much more than our greatest and most prolific designer his creative genius was breathtaking and to be his friend was an exceptional gift. Karl was brilliant, he was wicked, he was funny, he was generous beyond measure, and he was deeply kind. I will miss him so very much.”
Over the years, Lagerfeld’s personal style became as famous as his designs, confirming his status as a cultural icon. His ice-white ponytail, dark sunglasses and black leather gloves became his style signatures, as did his black tailored suits.
While Lagerfeld had many friends, he kept his personal life private. His most famous companion was his cat, Choupette, who the designer made into a celebrity pet, complete with its own Instagram account. In June 2013, he indicated he would marry, if it were legal.
Lagerfeld had an 18 year relationship with the French aristocrat, model, and socialite Jacques de Bascher (1951–1989), though Lagerfeld said that the liaison never became sexual. "I infinitely loved that boy," Lagerfeld reportedly said of de Bascher, "but I had no physical contact with him. Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm."
Lagerfeld lived in numerous homes over the years: an apartment in the rue de l'Université in Paris, decorated in the Art Deco style (1970s); the 18th-century Chateau de Penhoët in Brittany, decorated in the Rococo style (1970s to 2000); an apartment in Monte Carlo decorated until 2000 in 1980s Memphis style (from the early 1980s); the Villa Jako in Blankenese in Hamburg, decorated in the Art Deco style (mid-1990s to 2000); the Villa La Vigie in Monaco (the 1990s to 2000), a 17th-century mansion (hôtel particulier) in the Rue de l'Université in Paris, decorated in the Rococo and other styles (1980s to the 2000s); an apartment in Manhattan, although he never moved into or decorated it (2006 to 2012); the summer villa El Horria in Biarritz, decorated in the modern style (1990s–2006); and a house dating from the 1840s in Vermont (from the 2000s). From 2007, Lagerfeld owned an 1820s house in Paris in Quai Voltaire decorated in modern and Art Deco style.
Despite his declining health, Lagerfeld kept tight control of his work.
Date of Birth: 28 August 1930, Canning Town, Essex, UK
Birth Name: Windsor Davies
It may seem unlikely, even in the world of British TV sitcoms, that an actor could raise a laugh simply by shouting “Shut up!” at the top of his voice. But that is what Windsor Davies, who has died aged 88, did week after week in the long-running BBC series It Ain’t Half Hot Mum between 1974 and 1981. The pompous Battery Sergeant Major Tudor Bryn Williams, played by Davies, was one of the central characters in the show and his eardrum-shattering bellow never failed to amuse viewers.
From this unpromising material, Davies managed to tap into a vein of comedy in the tradition of pantomime slapstick. He also coined the catchphrase “lovely boy”, liberally used by Williams as he delivers the latest ear-bashing to his troops.
Davies was born of Welsh-speaking parents in Canning Town, east London, but soon after the second world war began, in 1940, when he was 10 years old, he was sent to live with relatives at Nant-y-Moel in the Ogmore Valley of south Wales. He attended Ogmore grammar school and later Bangor teacher training college and had stints as a miner and as a factory hand before becoming a teacher in south London. Encouraged by his wife, Lyn, Davies then decided to take a drama course at Richmond College in 1961.
During two years of national service in the early 1950s with the army in North Africa, he had picked up the military manner that was to serve him well as an actor by observing and mimicking his commanding officers. He was good at letting his aspirates collapse as he tried to deal with the recalcitrant men of Deolali and he had one of the most eloquent moustaches in the business.
Stage work came his way, and after a season in rep at Cheltenham, he was introduced to John Dexter, associate director of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court in London. In 1961 Davies was the Tramp in the company’s production of Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen and Wallace Morton in Gwyn Thomas’s The Keep.
He had small roles in numerous TV shows, often as police officers or authority figures, and was a paid heavy, Toby, in the Doctor Who story The Evil of the Daleks (1967), before landing the role in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, alongside Estelle, with whom he had toured in a club double-act. During its run Davies was in two Carry On films, Carry on Behind (1975) and Carry on England (1976), in the latter playing Sergeant Major “Tiger” Bloomer.