Levene died in his home in England; he had been suffering from liver cancer.
Andy Bell, of the UK rock band Ride, mourned Levene’s death on Twitter, likening his guitar tone to “ground up diamonds fired at you through a high pressure hose.”
Levene leaves a lasting legacy on rock music as one of the pioneers of punk rock in the 1970s as well as the post-punk genre.
“A sad time to learn of the passing of guitar giant Keith Levene,” former bandmate Martin Atkins tweeted. “We had our ups and downs that had mellowed over time. My respect for his unique talent never will.”
Levene was working with writer Adam Hammond on a book about the history of Public Image Ltd. when he died, according to Variety.
“There is no doubt that Keith was one of the most innovative, audacious and influential guitarists of all time,” Hammond tweeted. “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.”
The late guitar legend is survived Kate Ransford, his partner; his son Kirk from his first marriage; and his sister Jill; according to The Guardian.