Public Image Ltd and The Clash guitarist Keith Levene has died aged 65

Public Image Ltd and The Clash guitarist Keith Levene has died aged 65.

The news was broken by author and writer Adam Hammond, who revealed that Levene died on Friday (November 11).

“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,” Hammond wrote.


“There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, audacious and influential guitarists of all time.”

The tribute continued: “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.

“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.”

Hammond concluded: “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.”


After roadying for Yes in the early 1970s, Levene founded The Clash in 1976 alongside Mick Jones, famously persuading Joe Strummer to leave his band at the time – The 101ers – and join the band.

Levene then left The Clash before they began recording music, going on to form Public Image Ltd with John Lydon after the breakup of the Sex Pistols.

After leaving PiL in 1983, Levene tried his hand at solo material, production and more.

Those to pay tribute to Levene since news of his death was announced include PiL bassist Jah Wobble.

See a range of tributes to the late guitarist below.

Ride‘s Andy Bell wrote: “RIP Keith Levene – a guitar tone like ground up diamonds fired at you through a high pressure hose.”

Elsewhere, The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe said he owes Levene “much of my guitar style, in some ways. he made it possible to be me.”