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UB40 founding member Astro Wilson dies at 64 after ‘very short illness’

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2016
                                Astro Wilson performs at Blaisdell Arena in 2016. Wilson died Saturday after a “very short illness.”

    STAR-ADVERTISER / 2016

    Astro Wilson performs at Blaisdell Arena in 2016. Wilson died Saturday after a “very short illness.”

Terence Wilson, a founding member of British reggae band UB40 better known by his stage name, Astro, has died.

He was 64.

“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,” his band announced Saturday.

“The world will never be the same without him. We ask you to please respect his family’s privacy at this incredibly difficult time.”

UB40, named after the English unemployment benefits system, formed in Birmingham in 1978 and went on to sell more than 70 million records. Top hits included “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

But their songs also spoke to what they knew and saw, stories of the working class.

“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,” Astro told The Guardian in May. “It seemed natural to us.”

The band began splintering in January 2008, when frontman Ali Campbell left, followed by keyboardist Mickey Virtue.

Astro later left the band and formed a new offshoot with Campbell and Virtue, which performed the first of multiple concerts in Hawaii in 2016.

Saxophonist Brian Travers died from cancer in August.

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