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Keith Levene was born in Finsbury Park on July 18th, 1957, and has gone on to become co-founder of two of Britain's most influential groups of all-time - The Clash and Public Image Limited. Best known for his guitar work, Keith is a composer, producer, and a multi-instrumentalist, as underlined by his superb new digital release 'Search 4 Absolute Zero'.

A member of PiL during their most creative phase, which included the seminal 'Metal Box' album, Keith, with bassist Jah Wobble and frontman John Lydon, produced some of the most innovative sounds in British music of the rock and roll era. It was no coincidence then that when Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony blew many of us away there were two snatches of PiL songs included, including 'Under the House' from the 'Flowers of Romance' album. Public Image Limited opened up to a few billion ears around the world in one go. Neat, eh?

Keith now describes himself as a hippie mutant, and whereas John Lydon resisted the temptation to play any Beatles music during his recent spell as a Radio 6 Music DJ, Keith is happy enough to be seen in a Beatles T-shirt. Master innovator Keith is still carrying on the fine British tradition, which The Beatles excelled at, of pushing the boundaries of music.

Also look out for Keith's upcoming 'This is not an Autobiography: The Diary of a Non-Punk Rocker'. A lot of people jump on the punk bandwagon with nothing new to say, but Keith was at the heart of the storm, so his take on things could make for one of the most interesting rock autobiographies of recent years.

- Paul Rance/

Berwyn Exit Strategy Waddon remembering the impact of Keith's playing
"I would watch him in awe as a kid from stage-side…" BESW on Facebook

Paul Simonon, Keith Levene, Dee Dee Ramone 
A snapshot of '70s rock history, courtesy of Exile On Moan Street
Paul Simonon, Keith Levene, Dee Dee Ramone

David Klimek of The Montreal Gazette salutes Keith's 'Search 4 Absolute Zero'

Nine instrumental tracks = forty minutes and fourteen seconds of musical bliss.

With “Search 4 Absolute Zero,” Keith reminds us once again why we’ve been so in love with his guitar styling since the late 1970s… he’s a true one-of-a-kind…

Whether Keith’s playing is in a jazz-mode (“In the Field”) or more along the lines of dub (“Pleasing all the People’), transfixing the listener with the beautiful (and dare I say “majestic”) title track or experimenting with a Middle Eastern vibe (“MarrapeggioInstVibe”), this album is a wonderful listening experience.

And a treat for fans of his partnership with Jah Wobble is “Zombie Lessons,” which harkens back to that album’s “Mississippi.”

Bravo, Keith!

David Klimek


Keith on good form as he's interviewed on Pure Radio by Paul Holloway in January 2013. His best radio interview, I think. Keith talks about his new projects, and reflects on being a major nexus regarding the British punk scene, though, ironically, he was never a punk


Keith on Search for Absolute Zero, Metal Box in Dub, being a roadie for Yes at 15, The Clash, PiL, Chi energy, Sid Vicious, and a lot more. Here, Keith also dispels one of the great rock myths - Sid could play bass.

Greg Whitfield interviews PiL/Clash guitarist Keith Levene for 3AM - an autobiography of an interview

Kathy D's interview with Keith for Louder Than War
Recalling PiL: The Commercial Zone Era with Keith Levene and Maureen Baker

Paul Rance on Keith Levene's Commercial Zone 2014 (CZ 2014)

It's a helluva piece of work, multi-genred, and Keefy's playing better than he's ever done.

Welcome to the Commercial Zone - funky, and reminiscent of themes for '70s cop shows! Moments Lost - mellow, involving guitar and dreamy synth. I Think I'll Call It A Day - all rockin', incl. Keith's too underused voice. Listen out for spikey early PiL-style guitar. True Romance - a beautiful, classical sound, with a synth weaving in and out.

Behind the law 2 L stage mix 2 - pleasantly smooth instrumental.
BiTs of Prague - with its Eastern European classical and jaunty feel, Keith's nod at the Czech Republic capital.
Call iT a DaY NoW - one of Keith's heavier recordings.
LiVe from the white room db - atmospheric, with snatches of Keith's early PiL-style gtr and synth.
LoVe iN thE MoMeNt - my favourite. Great driving rhythm with a lilting sound.
NEVER THE SAME THING TWICE - impressive vocals by Keith on this catchy rocker.
RADIO 4 - thoughtful Wagnerian (yes, I read my NMEs back in the day) snythy instrumental for your thoughtful Radio 4 listener!
The SlaB - a brooding gem that was famously once used in Miami Vice.
They came to Dance 2 - wistful, synth dominated track.
Whats My name 2014 - updated, thumping instrumental version of the tune Keith co-wrote for the first Clash album. Beatles fans listen carefully, too.

CZ 2014 available here

Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, the Clash and Me (Teen Guitarist taken from Keith Levene's I Was a Teen Guitarist 4 the Clash! Book 1 Kindle Edition)

Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, the Clash and Me (Teen Guitarist taken from Keith Levene's I Was a Teen Guitarist 4 the Clash! Book 1)

by: Keith Levene, Kathy DiTondo

In 1976 17 year old Clash founder member and guitarist Keith Levene was on a mission: To poach Joe Strummer from his then band the 101ers to join up with the Clash.

“The Clash had started to form. You could definitely see the potential of the band. Yet there was one important missing link. A dynamite front man and we felt Joe was or could be the one,” recalls Levene.

Levene creates a poignant image of Strummer in “Meeting Joe.”

“Joe was a lovely and very sincere guy. Prepare to love him more after reading this book,” he promises.

Levene also dispels certain myths that have been perpetuated over the years regarding how Strummer joined the Clash.

“There are these stories that Joe was given this ultimatum by Bernard Rhodes to join the Clash in 24 hours or he would be out and/or that he immediately dumped the 101ers when offered the chance to be our front man and/or that he was recruited by other members of the Clash on a dole line to joint our band. It’s all bollocks. I know because I was there,” he explains.

Levene also describes the exciting emerging scene that was developing in West London in 1975-1976 in “Meeting Joe.”

“The feeling I want to relate to those who read this book is that they are accompanying me on a magical mystery tour of West London during those incredibly exciting early days of punk,” Levene says.

An excerpt of Levene’s book can be found here:

A hardback version signed by Keith with accompanying photo and flyer from one of Keith’s gigs with the Clash is available at

Levene has also released an EP entitled “Meeting Joe” to accompany the hardback version of the book.

“One of the tunes is especially personal because I wrote it with Joe at a sound check at one of our gigs,” he states.

For further information contact

Follow Keith on twitter @teenguitarist76

Joe Strummer, Keith Levene, Early Clash, 1976
Joe Strummer holding the mike for the teenage guitarist himself, Keith Levene

Binding: Kindle Edition
Format: Kindle eBook
Label: Commercial Zone books
Languages: EnglishPublished
Manufacturer: Commercial Zone books
Number Of Pages: 41
Publication Date: January 06, 2015
Publisher: Commercial Zone books
Release Date: January 06, 2015
Studio: Commercial Zone books

5 May 2014 Commercial Zone 2014 Press Release


Clash/Public Image Ltd. founding member, Keith Levene’s “Commercial Zone 2014” initiative on Indiegogo has reached 136% of its targeted financial objective helped in part by the $3,500.00 that Levene’s signed guitar fetched and $510.00 for a signed vintage copy of a May 1980 NME with Levene on the cover.

Levene launched the campaign to help offset costs associated with his upcoming and much anticipated “Commercial Zone 2014” musical release.“

Commercial Zone 2014” which has been referred to as the “post punk opus” by L.A. Record Magazine represents three decades of the legendary guitarist’s worrk.

While with PiL, Levene went in to the studio in New York City in 1983 to compose what was intended to be PiL’s fourth album, Commercial Zone. However creative differences over that album ultimately led to the project splintering before it was completed. It ultimately caused Levene to depart PiL altogether. In an effort to save the project, Levene self-released the Commercial Zone 1984 vinyl album.

“For all intents and purposes CZ1984 was presentable but way below the potential of what I had in mind,” explains Levene.

“Finally producing the Commercial Zone my way will allow me to finish important unfinished business,” explains Levene and get the fourth real PiL album out. The fact its 2014 seems more fitting and a better time.”

“CZ2014 is very special to me. It contains original material and has the benefit of 30 years of my work. So it’s not another tired, old, re-release of stuff that’s been out since 1978 or 1981. It’s fresh. I’ve had time to reflect. So yeah, it’s better,” he states.

“I am pleased that the public seems to want the release, as reflected by the fact that pledges have already surpassed initial target with about 2.5 weeks to go on the campaign. I really appreciate the support I’ve received thus far.” Levene says. While this is great, the campaign has expanded since it first launched and, thus, additional funding is needed.”

In addition to pre-ordering the CZ2014 release as either a download or a CD itself, funders can select other perks, including one that includes Levene’s personal copy of the CZ1984 vinyl release, copies of Levene’s forthcoming book “I was a teenage guitarist for the Clash,” a Skype call from Levene, and even an opportunity to participate in the CZ2014 sessions as Executive Producer and walk away at the end of the session with Levene’s rare, vintage metallic Travis Bean guitar. “It’s similar to the one I used on Metal Box and I plan on using it to record CZ2014,” adds Levene.

The link to the Indiegogo campaign is:

For further information, contact Kathy DiTondo at or go to

Jon Downes chats to Keith Levene on the balcony at 'The Flyover' in Ladbroke Grove. Funny, entertaining and informative!
Mick Farren Memorial Gig, November 14th, 2013.


Keith Levene - Eventful Slideshow
A mesmerising mix of sound and images (many of Keith).


Public Image Limited - Paris in the Spring Album Cover
John Lydon's artwork adorns the PiL live album of 1980, 'Paris au Printemps/Paris in the Spring'. PiL members as doggies (?). Keith is on the right, John on the left, and Jeannette Lee, who was involved with PiL on several artistic levels, is the figure represented at the top. Jeannette was also the girl on the cover of the 'Flowers of Romance' album, and she went on to co-manage Rough Trade and manage Duffy.



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