Clash founding member Keith Levene dies at 65
by FARUK IMAMOVIC | VIEW 199
Keith Levene, guitarist and one of the founders of the bands Clash and Public Image Ltd., died at the age of 65. Levene, who had been suffering from liver cancer, died at his home in Norfolk, England, leaving behind a lasting legacy and influence on British rock music, the Guardian writes.
Levene formed the Clash with guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon when he was just 18, and it was the guitarist, along with the band's manager Bernard Rhodes, who asked Joe Strummer, frontman of the 101ers at the time, to join them in the Clash.
News of his death was confirmed online by his close friend, author Adam Hammond.
Hammond said 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. 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." In 2021, the Quietus website described him as: “one of the architects of the post-punk sound, his guitar style occupying a space between angular abrasion and pop opulence”.
Levene said in 2012: “People thought I was classically trained, which was bollocks. I knew the E chord, and ventured into E minor. We laid the music out on a plate for Lydon. He was very hip at the time and did really good work”.
Born in Muswell Hill, North London in 1957. After forming the Clash, he retired from the band. He only appeared on a few of their early shows and also wrote the song What's My Name on the Clash's debut album in 1977. After disagreements over the band's strong political affiliation, Levine left the Clash.
After British punk band S*x Pistols broke up in the late 1970s, Levene and the band's lead singer John Lydon co-founded Public Image Ltd (PiL).