British vocalist and founding member of UB40 Terence Wilson, better known by his stage name Astro, has died aged 64.
Astro, who performed in the reggae-pop band for more than 30 years, died after a short illness, his current band confirmed. Said a statement on Ali Campbell and Astro’s Twitter account:
We are absolutely devastated and completely heartbroken.
The world will never be the same without him.
Astro left UB40 in 2013 and went on to perform with breakaway group UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, which had played some concerts this year and was due to go on tour in 2022.
The original band broke through in the early 1980s with their unique take on British reggae and found success with hits like Red Wine and Can’t Help Falling In Love.
The Birmingham-based group – named after the then government’s unemployment benefit form – sold more than 70 million records and had three UK number one hits.
A statement from the current UB40 line-up on Twitter said:
We have heard tonight, the sad news that ex-member of UB40, Terence Wilson, better know as Astro, has passed away after a short illness. Our sincere condolences to his family.
In total, UB40 have recorded 39 UK top 40 singles and 28 top 40 albums, with Astro singing lead vocals on the hit Rat In Mi Kitchen which reached number 12 in 1987.
The group also enjoyed success around the world, including in the US, where Red Red Wine went to number one, as did another cover, Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, which spent seven weeks at number one in 1993.
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 the website UK Music Reviews.
In August, fellow UB40 founding member and saxophonist Brian Travers died of cancer aged 62.