Keith Levene, a founding member of The Clash and Public Image Ltd, died on Friday, November 11. He was 65 years old. His former bandmates jah wobble Y Martin Atkins confirmed the news via social media. Levene, who had liver cancer, died at his home in Norfolk, England, according to The Guardian.
“RIP Keith Levene – A guitar tone like crushed diamonds shot through a high-pressure hose”, Andy Bell of Ride tweeted.
While Levene’s influential draft shaped the sound of punk and post-punk to come, one of his first gigs was working as a roadie for progressive rock artists Yes as a teenager. Soon after, he teamed up with Mick Jones to form a band that became The Clash. He left the band before their first record, although he co-wrote the song “What’s My Name” from their 1977 debut album. He went on to briefly perform in Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious, before teaming up with John Lydon, drummer Jim Walker and drummer bassist Jah Wobble to form Public Image Ltd following the breakup of the Sex Pistols in 1978.
Levene and the band were integral to the fusion of reggae and dub in punk and post-punk music, particularly their work on their second album, 1979’s. Metal box (released under the name Second edition in the U.S). Levine worked on her debut, Public image: first issue and their third album, romanticism flowers.
“What happened to me was that once I got good enough to know the rules, I didn’t want to be like any other guitarist,” Levene said in a 2001 interview. “I didn’t push myself to be different. He only had an ear for what was wrong. So if I did something that was wrong, I mean, I made a mistake or I did something that wasn’t in the key, I was open-minded enough to listen to it again.”
Levene left PiL in 1983. Although he contributed as a co-writer, he officially did not play on their fourth album. This is what you want, this is what you get. Shopping areacomprising early recordings for the album, features some of her interpretations of songs from her fourth release.
After her departure, Levene moved to Los Angeles, where she curated the 1987 books. violent opposition EP, which featured members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. In 2012, he reteamed with his PiL bandmate Wobble to release yin and yang.
According to The Guardian, Levene had been working on a book on PiL with author Adam Hammond. Hammond took to social media to pay tribute to his friend Levene.
“There is no question that Keith was one of the most innovative, bold and influential guitarists of all time,” Hammond wrote. “Keith sought to create a new paradigm in music and with willing collaborators John Lydon and Jah Wobble they achieved just that. His guitar work during the nine minutes of ‘Theme’, the first track on PiL’s first album, defined what alternative music should be.
“In addition to helping make PiL the biggest band of the day, Keith also founded The Clash with Mick Jones and had a huge influence on their early sound,” Hammond continued. “A lot of what we hear today owes a lot to Keith’s work, some recognized, most of it not.”