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UB40 former member Astro dies after a short illness

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UB40 former member Astro dies after a short illness

Terence Wilson, a founding member of UB40 who was known by fans of the pioneering reggae band Astro, has died following a short illness. He was 64. Wilson’s death was confirmed on the official Twitter page for his group, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro.

“We are absolutely devastated and completely heartbroken to have to tell you that our beloved Astro has today passed away after a very short illness,” the statement read. “The world will never be the same without him.”

UB40 was formed in Birmingham, England in the late 1970s, when reggae was becoming an outlet for the country’s working-class youth to express their feelings about issues including racism and poverty. UB40 took their name from the British unemployment benefits card, a form they replicated as the cover of their 1980 debut album Signing Off.

“I went through the same rigmarole as most black people in the late 70s,” Wilson told The Guardian in an interview in May, referencing the era’s stop-and-frisk “sus law,” which often unfairly targeted men of color. “It was a weekly occurrence. We found it harder to write love songs than militant lyrics because it was a lot easier to write about stuff you had witnessed or read about. It seemed natural to us.”

In 2013 Wilson left UB40 and formed his own version of the band alongside former members Ali Campbell and Mickey Virtue.”Since Astro rejoined my band, it’s been a renaissance for us,” Campbell said in a 2016 interview. “I and Astro are enough to make the fans happy, they’re voting with their feet.”

Wilson and Campbell continued to release music and perform, and were planning a 2022 tour for their last album, Unprecedented, up until Wilson’s death. Earlier this year, another founding member of UB40, the group’s saxophonist and songwriter Brian Travers, also died following a battle with cancer.

He acquired his nickname as a child because he wore a pair of Dr. Martens boots with the model name “Astronaut”, the musician explained in a 2016 interview with website UK Music Reviews.”Fortunately, no one called me astronaut because it is rather a mouthful so they shortened it to Astro and it has stuck ever since,” he added. Asked how he felt about touring and performing live, Astro said: “There is no job on this planet that gives you the job satisfaction that I get. I live to be on stage.”

Author: Linda .R. Jones

London, UK

lindarj83@gmail.com