Pre-Prodigy: Liam Howlett started his musical career as a DJ in a group called Cut To Kill in 1987, but (as far as we know) he worked on only one of their singles, titled Listen to the Basstone. He left the band when they signed a contract that excluded him, and, influenced by house music (later rave) arriving from overseas, became a DJ in Essex. Soon (in the club The Barn) he met Leeroy Thornhill, the two-meter tall James Brown-fan dancer, and ”freelance” traveler Keith Flint, who were the members of the same rave crowd. Then they asked for a tape of Liam’s DJing and after hearing some of his own tunes, they asked to dance to his music, if he played live. A friend, Ziggy organized a live appearance at a venue called Labyrinth in 1990. The dancers (Keith, Leeroy, and a friend of Keith’s, Sharky) and Liam were ready for the gig, but Liam also wanted an MC – friends recommended Maxim Reality (Keith ”Keeti” Palmer), who joined them as an MC to better the live shows. The first live Prodigy performance was held in front of 250 people. After the first gig, more followed – and the five formed The Prodigy (yes, originally there were 5 members)
The first singles: Their first release, What Evil Lurks (with four tracks) sold seven thousand copies (peaking at #31 in the Dance Chart – note that after this Sharky left the band) and started them on a way of massive hits over the following years (after that, they had tons of live performances in various clubs). Their next single was Charly (which Liam hoped wouldn’t enter the Top 40), ”featuring” a sample from a BBC Public Information Film (intended for kids), and became a club anthem, and an incredible hit (going #3 in the UK Single Chart, and #1 in the UK Dance Chart) – also causing much controversy, with newspapers claiming the track ”killed rave”.
The live shows: Being ravers, it was obvious for the Prodigy to have live shows. In fact, at the beginning, it was the live shows that the whole Prodigy music was based on – their live shows becoming the most popular among youth, because of their style and energy. Liam even said he respected a big rave more than a chart single.
The following months: After the success of Charly, the they released 3 more singles before the first album: Everybody In The Place (which went #2, being kept off the top spot by the re-release of Bohemian Rhapsody), Fire and Out Of Space (which was their first international hit, conquering the airwaves of many European countries). Liam also made several remixes (for Dream Frequency and Art Of Noise), and turned down Take That when they asked him to remix one of their songs.
The first album: in November 1992, the Prodigy released their first full-length album: Experience. Its unique style and freshness made it a hit – but promotion tours (with Paul Oakenfold and Moby) were complete failures, and the band ended up with huge debts.
Number one album: This was the time for change: the anonymously released track, One Love was kind of different, leaving behind most of the breakbeats, and opening up another style – when Liam saw that the single had become successful, they revealed that it was a Prodigy track. With this they showed they wanted a change, and they could change (also, it was the first Prodigy video that MTV played a lot). Having released No Good (Start The Dance), Liam started working on a new album. It took him a lot of struggle to write all the tracks, especially because he had so many influences. Then Music For The Jilted Generation, the second album came out – becoming smack a number one hit (remaining for 4 months in the UK Top 20) and selling more than a million copies. After this, they started intense gigging, playing to a very wide audience in more than 20 countries. The following two singles (Voodoo People and Poison) continued their success.
Prodigy Live: After the phenomenal success of Jilted, they embarked on a long tour around the world (all over America, Australia and Europe).