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Keith Levene: Legendary guitarist and The Clash co-founder dies at 65

Keith Levene, one of the most influential guitarists of all time had been suffering from liver cancer and died at his home in Norfolk
UPDATED NOV 13, 2022
Keith Levene, 65, has died while fighting a long battle with liver cancer. (Adam Hammond/Twitter)
Keith Levene, 65, has died while fighting a long battle with liver cancer. (Adam Hammond/Twitter)

NORFOLK, UK: Keith Levene, legendary English guitarist and co-founder of the celebrated rock band The Clash and Public Image Ltd, has died at age 65. The news was confirmed by his partner Kate Ransford and author Adam Hammond on their social media accounts on Friday, November 11. The latter wrote, “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. There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, audacious, and influential guitarists of all time.” 

In his series of tweets, Hammond added, “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.” His current partner, Ransford paid her tribute too, and posted a selfie of the couple together on Twitter, and said, “RIP keith levene My beloved partner who passed away at our home on 11/11/22 peacefully, painfree ,cosy n well loved .he was an iconic guitarist and composer my best friend , my love , my everything , I love you to the moon.” 


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Several other artists have since paid their respects to Levene, including members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ride, and HEALTH. Martin Atkins, of former Public Image Ltd drummer, wrote online, “A sad time to learn of the passing of guitar giant Keith Levene. We had our ups and downs that had mellowed over time. My respect for his unique talent never will,” according to Pitchfork.

Levene had been suffering from liver cancer and died at his home in Norfolk. He leaves behind his great legacy and innovative style in British rock music, and across the globe. Among his fans from the music industry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, guitarist John Frusciante, complimented Levene by saying, his style was "spectacular," and "he explored the possibilities of what you can do with the guitar," reports udiscover music.

He once in an interview with on his style of playing, said, “Once I got good enough to know the rules, I didn’t want to be like any other guitarist. I didn’t go out of my way to be different. I just had an ear for what was wrong. So if I did something that was wrong, i.e. made a mistake or did something that wasn’t in key, I was open-minded enough to listen to it again.”

Levene was only 16 years old when he visited West London and met Mick Jones for the first time. They decided to start a band together after becoming close friends right away. In July 1976, they made their official debut as the Clash after roping in bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Terry Chimes. However, The Clash fired Levene in September 1976, claiming he was no longer invested in the project. He co-wrote a couple songs with the band before they split up.

Some of his band’s famous numbers were, 'Death Disco', 'Flowers Of Romance', and 'This Is Not A Love Song' including other hits. Levene had released an autobiography as well, named 'I Was a Teen Guitarist for The Clash' in 2015 that was also turned into a documentary film.