Keith Levene, Public Image Ltd and The Clash co-founder, dead at 65
Keith Levene, the innovative guitarist who was a founding member of both The Clash and Public Image Ltd, died from liver cancer on Friday (11/11). He was 65. The news came via his partner, Kate Ransford, who wrote on Twitter, "My beloved partner who passed away at our home on 11/11/22 peacefully, painfree ,cosy n well loved .he was an iconic guitarist and composer my best friend , my love , my everything , I love you to the moon."
Born in London on July 17, 1957, Levene was an avid rock fan as a teenager and at 15 worked as a roadie for Yes on the Close to the Edge tour. A few years later he co-formed The Clash with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, and helped convince Joe Strummer to leave his band, The 101ers, and join The Clash. He grew dissatisfied with Clash and ended up being fired by the band before they released any music. He was also briefly in The Flowers of Romance before forming Public Image Ltd with John Lydon, Jah Wobble and Jim Walker in early 1978 not long after The Sex Pistols broke up.
Envisioned as an "anti-rock" project, PiL during Levene's five-year stay in the band made some of the most influential records of the era -- including 1979's Metal Box and 1981's The Flowers of Romance -- and their mix of noise, dub and funk remains the style many people think of when they think of "post punk," and his taut, unconventional style was a big part of that. After leaving the band in 1983, Keith went on to release a number of solo albums and also worked as a producer.
There have been a number of tributes on social media. Jah Wobble simply wrote "RIP KEITH LEVENE," while Thurston Moore wrote, "Keith Levene forever. Guitar playing will never be the same." Read tributes from Ride's Andy Bell, Anton Newcombe, Lloyd Cole, On-U Sound's Adrian Sherwood, and more, and check out video of Keith with PiL below.