Trailblazing British guitarist Keith Levene, who co-founded The Clash and Public Image Ltd is dead. He died of liver cancer on Friday, November 11th. He was 65.
Author Adam Hammond confirmed the punk pioneer’s passing in a Saturday statement on Twitter.
“It is with great sadness I report that my close friend and legendary Public Image Limited guitarist Keith Levene passed away on Friday 11th November,” he wrote.
“There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, audacious and influential guitarists of all time.”
Born in 1957 in London, Levene got his start as a roadie for Yes as a teenager in the early 1970s. He achieved fame after forming The Clash with guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon at just 18 years old. It was Levene and manager Bernard Rhodes who convinced vocalist Joe Strummer, then the frontman for the 101ers, to join the band.
While he saw early success with The Clash, Levene grew tired of their political songs. He exited before they started recording. He memorably contributed to “What’s My Name” on the band’s 1977 debut album.
Levene would go on to co-form Public Image with S*x Pistols singer John Lydon (previously known as Johnny Rotten) and bass player John Wardle (known as Jah Wobble). Jim Walker was recruited on drums.
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With them, he enjoyed greater fame, including the hit single “Public Image,” off their popular 1978 debut album “Public Image: First Issue.” The band’s second album, 1979’s “Metal Box,” is regarded as a classic example of the post-punk genre. He left the group in 1983.
The Clash co-founder contributed to “What’s My Name” on the band’s 1977 debut album.
Levene is survived by his sister, Jill Bennett, and his partner, Kate Ransford.
Meanwhile, Keith Levene’s first public appearance in more than 20 years was at the launch party of Bouga Cocktail Lounge on July 25, 2007 in London.
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