Keith Levene, who co-founded the Clash and was an original member of Public Image Ltd., has died in Norfolk, U.K. His death was confirmed by former bandmates Martin Atkins and Jah Wobble on social media. The Guardian reports that Levene died of liver cancer. He was 65.
An influential guitarist, Levene formed the Clash alongside Mick Jones and Paul Simonon when he was just 18. He and the band’s manager, Bernard Rhodes, memorably asked Joe Strummer to join them.
Born Julian Levene in Muswell Hill, north London, Levene appeared on the Clash’s 1977 debut album as co-writer of the track “What’s My Name”. As the Clash moved into a more political direction, however, Levene left and formed P.I.L. with former Sex Pistols member John Lydon and Jah Wobble. Levene appeared on 1978’s Public Image: First Issue, 1979’s Metal Box, and 1981’s The Flowers Of Romance.
Levene left P.I.L. in 1983, and two years later he moved to Los Angeles. In 1986, he produced demos for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan by with engineers Steve Catania and Dan Nebenzal. Levene also worked with DJ Matt Dike, creating samples for Ice T and Tone Loc. In 1989, he released his first solo release, Violent Opposition, which also featured members of the RHCP.