Keith Levene, Founding Member of The Clash, Dies at 65

Tom Hill/Getty Images
Tom Hill/Getty Images

Keith Levene, a founding member of The Clash and Public Image Ltd, has died at 65 after battling liver cancer.

“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,” author Adam Hammond tweeted. “Our thoughts and love go out to his partner Kate, sister Jill, and all of Keith’s family and friends. The world is a darker place without his genius. Mine will be darker without my mate.”

The pioneering guitarist passed away at his home in Norfolk, U.K. His partner, Kate Ransford, said he died “peacefully” and “painfree.”

Born in 1957 in London, Levene started playing guitar as a preteen. An avid fan of progressive rock band Yes, Levene hailed Steve Howe as “the greatest fucking guitarist in the world.” As a 15-year-old, he got a job cleaning cymbals for the band.

He helped found The Clash in 1976, although he left the band just months later. Two years later, he formed Public Image Ltd. along with John Lydon of the Sex Pistols. Levene remained with the punk band through their third album, but ultimately left over creative differences as they produced their fourth album, This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get.

He went on to release several solo albums, as well as collaborate with artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Several artists have paid tribute following the news of Levene’s death, including former Public Image Ltd drummer Martin Atkins and Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

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