Guitarist Keith Levene, co-founder of The Clash, dead at 65

Keith Levene, a founding member of The Clash and longtime guitarist for Public Image Ltd, died Friday at the age of 65, friends and former bandmates confirmed to the BBC.

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According to The Guardian, Levene died of liver cancer.

Levene’s death in Norfolk, United Kingdom, was also announced on social media by former bandmates Martin Atkins and Jah Wobble.

As per Variety: “While his career was sidetracked by substance abuse beginning in the early 1980s, Levene’s work with Public Image — the band Sex Pistols singer John Lydon formed after that group broke up early in 1978 — cast a long shadow on the musical landscape of the post-punk era. Both melodic and discordant, sonorous and violent, his jagged, lurching chords and chiming arpeggios set a template that echoed across countless bands over the years, far beyond PiL’s postpunk milieu. This writer can recall hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers spontaneously break into the riff from PiL’s classic 1979 song ‘Poptones’ during a 1991 concert, and his sound can be heard in the decades-later work of everyone from Franz Ferdinand to LCD Soundsystem.”

According to the BBC, Levene founded The Clash with Mick Jones in the 1970s but left before they became successful. He then joined Public Image Ltd, the band Sex Pistols singer John Lydon formed after that group split in 1978, but exited before they gained mainstream success in the mid-1980s.

Levene was reportedly instrumental in persuading 101ers frontman Joe Strummer to join The Clash, and he is credited with “with helping to pioneer an angular post-punk sound that is still regularly cited,” according to the BBC.

According to the network, close friend and author Adam Hammond said that Levene had been living with liver cancer for two years, but his death had been unexpected.

“He had so many plans - there were so many things he was doing,” Hammond said, confirming to the BBC that Levene had just completed a book about Public Image Ltd, co-written with Hammond, and had been working on accompanying music.

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