Keith Levene of punk band The Clash dies, aged 65

Levene cowrote a song on The Clash’s first album (Getty Images)
Levene cowrote a song on The Clash’s first album (Getty Images)

Tributes have been paid to Keith Levene, a founding member of punk bands The Clash and Public Image Ltd, who has died aged 65.

Hailed as an innovative guitarist who helped shape the sound of punk, Levene cowrote the song “What’s My Name” from The Clash’s 1977 debut album.

Singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole described Levene as a “bona fide guitar genius”.

Levene, who had liver cancer, died at his home in Norfolk, The Guardian reported.

He left The Clash before they released their first record, then co-founded the Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious.

After the the Sex Pistols disintegrated in 1978, Levene teamed up with their vocalist John Lydon, as well as drummer Jim Walker and bassist Jah Wobble to form Public Image Ltd (PiL).

Author Adam Hammond, with whom Levene was reportedly writing a book about PiL, wrote on Twitter: “There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, audacious and influential guitarists of all time.

“Keith sought to create a new paradigm in music and with willing collaborators John Lydon and Jah Wobble succeeded in doing just that. His guitar work over the nine minutes of ‘Theme,’ the first track on the first PiL album, defined what alternative music should be.”

He added: “As well as helping to make PiL the most important band of the age, Keith also founded the Clash with Mick Jones and had a major influence on their early sound.

“So much of what we listen to today owes much to Keith’s work, some of it acknowledged, most of it not.”