“This is Keith, he’s in a band”, were the words of introduction from a race track marketing guy. With the realisation that this PR guy had no clue who the Prodigy are, Keith grinned, then with a wink said, “The missus is a DJ, I love my bikes, we gotta find something in common!” I don’t recall being capable of saying anything by way of reply and trust me, rarely am I speechless.
Whilst I used to be no slouch on the track, Keith was fast, ridiculously fast and there was no way I was even going to try and keep up with him. I resigned my mind to the fact that this guy was good at EVERYTHING. His on track performance was as fast, furious and flighty as his stage show, yet was always measured and just right. His off bike charisma was a delight too. Meeting fans, making conversation, signing autographs, giving selfies and reeling off one-liners seemed to be a pleasure for Keith and his expression was one a million miles away from the ‘game face’ some celebs don to greet their fans.
His passion for music was solid and although I argued with gusto, I couldn’t convince him that Faithless were actually the original EDM pioneers that still endure today. He seemed to think the Prodigy were bigger (that’s bias there!) Keith’s two-wheeled passion was totally unequivocal though – he wanted to ride his Suzuki GSXR1000 “like I’ve f*****g stolen it, ha ha”. And didn’t he.
In the biker fraternity we are all just people on machines and there is no rank or hierarchy. On track or off track we are a family. On road we look after each other irrespective of differences in means, creed or preference. Having heard the news today (and not even getting a whiff of it back then), I can see why Keith was so passionate about the bike family. As with many in the entertainment and media industries, a hobby / sport / club / pastime / passion / surrogate family, call it what you will, can give a huge feeling of belonging that many lack so badly. The focus on something so different can be a welcome break from (what may be a dream job to many, but to a few of us can be) total routine. Occasionally torturous routine bordering on abusive.
Having been open about my own depression and dependency issues in the past, so many mates (and mates of mates) have come to me and said, ‘what do you REALLY know about depression, you’re a DJ and play bangers for hotties’! (usually said with a lol and friendly smile). I wonder (with a very heavy heart) how many said that to Avicii over the years and at what point he stopped even listening let alone arguing back. Similarly, was Keith told, “I’ve see you on stage, dude. You looked fine to me!” Of course he did, we do, it’s our walk and that’s what makes us so good at what we do. How can you play to 50,000 people (who may be insatiable with delirium at your performance) but still stand there and feel so despairingly alone? A question I have all too much time and too many late nights to ponder.
If you’re worried about someone then please start a conversation with them. It’s so good to receive that reach-out irrespective of who you are or where you’re from, after all. the highest high and the lowest low are all the same – too far from where you know you should be. Distance is distance. Often empty space.
God, I’d have loved to have helped Keith as I will with anyone that has inherited that black dog but sadly it’s too late. Instead, tonight, I shall toast him with a Jack (probably followed by the rest of the bottle), start a fire and then smack my bitch up (although I maintain Faithless are still better!!!). And I guarantee you this, when the hangover fog recedes enough for me to face leathers and a lid, I shall ride my bike like I FUCKING STOLE IT, Keith, Ha ha. RIP Brother.