Keith Levene, the pioneering British guitarist who co-founded The Clash and Public Image Ltd., died of liver cancer on Friday. He was 65 years old.
Author Adam Hammond confirmed the death of the punk pioneer in a statement on Saturday on Twitter.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my close friend and legendary Public Image Limited guitarist Keith Levene on Friday 11th November,” he wrote.
“There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, daring 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 shot to fame after forming The Clash with guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon aged just 18. It was Levene and manager Bernard Rhodes who convinced singer Joe Strummer, then frontman of the 101ers, to join the band.
While he enjoyed early success with The Clash, Levene grew tired of their political songs and left before they started recording. He memorably contributed “What’s My Name” on the band’s 1977 debut album.
He then co-formed Public Image with Sex Pistols singer John Lydon (formerly known as Johnny Rotten) and bassist John Wardle (known as Jah Wobble). Jim Walker was recruited on drums.
With them he enjoyed greater fame, including the hit single “Public Image”, from their popular 1978 debut album “Public Image: First Issue”. The band’s second album, 1979’s “Metal Box,” is considered a classic example of the post-punk genre. He left the group in 1983.
“What happened to me was that once I got good enough to know the rules, I didn’t want to be like any other guitarist,” Levene said in a Furious.com interview. 2001. be different. I just had an ear for what was wrong. So if I did something wrong, i.e. made a mistake or did something that wasn’t in the key, I was open-minded enough to listen again.
Levene is survived by her sister, Jill Bennett, and her partner, Kate Ransford.
Ransford wrote on Twitter“RIP Keith Levene My beloved partner who passed away with us on 11/11/22 peacefully, pain free, comfortable and well loved. He was an iconic guitarist and songwriter, my best friend, my love, my everything, I love you to the moon.
Others took to the social media platform on Saturday to cry.
“A sad time to learn of the passing of guitar giant Keith Levene. We had some ups and downs that have faded over time. My respect for his unique talent will never be,” tweeted Martin Atkins, who played drums for Public Image between 1979 and 1985.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Keith Levene. We were fortunate to work with Keith on an album he recorded with Jah Wobble. A post-punk legend who changed the sound of guitar music” , Cherry Red Records said on Twitter.
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