British vocalist and founding member of UB40 Terence Wilson, better known by his stage name Astro, has died after a short illness, his current band confirmed.
“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,” a statement on Ali Campbell and Astro’s Twitter account said on Saturday. “The world will never be the same without him.”
Wilson was part of British reggae band UB40 for more than 30 years, before leaving the band to join breakaway group UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro in 2013.
UB40 formed in Birmingham in the late 1970s, and over the next three decades found success with hits including “Red Red Wine” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love.”
The band dealt with social and political issues head-on in their songs, giving voice to working class dissatisfaction with the status quo of the time.
I went through the same rigmarole as most black people in the late 70s,” Astro told The Guardian in May, remembering the “sus law” that allowed the “weekly occurence” of police arresting people who were deemed to be acting suspiciously — often on racist pretexts.
“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,” he said.
The current iteration of UB40 also paid tribute to the musician, writing on Saturday: “We have heard tonight, the sad news that ex-member of UB40, Terence Wilson, better known as Astro, has passed away after a short illness. Our sincere condolences to his family.”
Another of the band’s founding members, Brian Travers, died of cancer in August at the age of 62.