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Terence Wilson, a founding member of UB40, who was known by fans of the groundbreaking reggae band as Astro, has died after a short illness. He was 64.
Wilson’s death was confirmed Saturday on the official Twitter page for his group, UB40 with Ali Campbell & Astro.
“We are completely devastated and completely devastated to have to tell you that our beloved Astro has passed away today after a very short illness,” the statement read. “The world will never be the same without him.”
The current, separate iteration of the band UB40, which Wilson left in 2013, too confirmed the singer’s death. “Our sincere condolences to his family,” the band tweeted.
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 issues of racism and poverty. UB40 took their name from the UK Unemployment Benefit Card, a form they repeated as the cover of their 1980 debut album Logging off.
“I went through the same struggle as most black people in the late ’70s,” Wilson said The Guardian in an interview in May, refers the stop-and-fresh of the era “sus-lov”, which was often unfairly aimed at colored men. “It was a weekly event. We found it harder to write love songs than militant lyrics because it was much easier to write about things you had witnessed or read about. It seemed natural to us.”
The four-time Grammy-nominated band topped the UK singles chart with the cover “Red Red Wine”, a crossover American favorite, as well as a cover of the Elvis Presley classic “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You” and “I Got You Babe “with The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde.
In 2013, Wilson left UB40 and formed his own version of the band along with former members Ali Campbell and Mickey Virtue.
“Since Astro joined my band again, it’s been a renaissance for us,” Campbell said said in an interview in 2016. “Me and Astro are enough to make fans happy, they vote with their feet.”
Wilson and Campbell went on to release music and perform, planning a 2022 tour for their latest album, So far unseen, until Wilson’s death.
Earlier this year, another founding member of UB40, the group’s saxophonist and songwriter Brian Travers, also died. after a fight with cancer.