RIP Keith Levene, founding member of both The Clash and Public Image Ltd (PiL), dies

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(Photo by Mike Maloney – CC BY-SA 4.0) Sad news, Keith Levene, full name Julian Keith Levene, the English musician who was a founding member of both The Clash and Public Image Ltd (PiL) died on November 11 aged 65. Levene died at his home in Norfolk after battling liver cancer.

At the age of fifteen Levene worked as a roadie for Yes on their ‘Close to the Edge’ tour. In 1976, he became a founding member of The Clash and The Flowers of Romance. Levene was responsible for helping to persuade Joe Strummer to leave the 101ers and join the Clash. Although he left The Clash before they began recording, he co-wrote “What’s My Name”, featured on their first album.

After the late 1970s British punk band the Sex Pistols disintegrated, Levene and that band’s lead singer John Lydon co-founded Public Image Ltd (PiL). He was involved in the writing, performing and producing of PiL’s early albums: “First Issue”, “Metal Box” and “Flowers of Romance”.

Levene left PiL in 1983 over creative differences concerning what would eventually become the band’s fourth album, “This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get”. In 1984, he released the original versions of the songs on his own label under the title “Commercial Zone” which was the original working title of the album.

After moving to Los Angeles the year before, Levene was asked in mid-1986 to produce demos for the album “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” by Red Hot Chili Peppers at Master Control in Burbank with engineers Steve Catania and Dan Nebenzal. Also in 1986, Levene worked together with DJ Matt Dike, experimenting with sampling techniques and hip-hop for Ice T and Tone Loc on their early recordings for “Delicious”. In 1989, he released his first solo release, “Violent Opposition”, on which members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed.

In 2003, Levene contributed to Pigface’s album “Easy Listening” and since then has released several solo records.

In 2011 Levene contributed to three tracks on the album “Psychic Life”, a collaboration between former PiL bassist Jah Wobble and Lonelady. In spring 2014, Levene went to Prague to record “Commercial Zone 2014”, an album backed via a crowdsourcing campaign funding website at Indiegogo.

In later years, he invested heavily in Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency.

Below is an interview with Keith Levene and John Lydon on The Tom Snyder Show in 1980.

And here is an interview called “Bitcoin is Punk Rock with Keith Levene” from 2 years ago.

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