Terence ‘Astro’ Wilson, of British reggae band UB40, dead at age 64

Terence “Astro” Wilson, best known for his role in the British reggae group UB40, died at the age of 64 following a “very short illness,” his current band confirmed Saturday.

Wilson is a founding member of the group, which formed in 1979 in Birmingham, England. He served as the band’s “toaster,” a title given in the genre to the person who offers lyrical, spoken-word like vocals over the music.

He had been touring with fellow founding UB40 member, Ali Campbell, after the two departed from the band. Their official Twitter account announced Wilson’s death in a statement Saturday.

“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 said. “The world will never be the same without him.”

UB40 is best known for fusing together reggae and pop in their music, particularly in their renditions of hit songs such as “Red Red Wine,” “I Got You Babe” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You.”

The band ran into issues, however, in 2008 when Campbell, its lead singer, began to have disagreements with management. Campbell departed the group after nearly 30 years together.

Wilson followed suit in 2013, according to the band’s website, and the two were performing together in recent years.

“Astro was under used in UB40’s early days,” Campbell said in a statement on their website. “He provided the lead on a few songs, like ‘Rat In Mi Kitchen’, but was also overlooked despite the fact that the public loved him. Since he came over to my fold, it’s been great all the way.”

Wilson added that the years “rolled away” when he reunited with Campbell, and that he was having fun making music with him again.

“When I started performing I was a traditional reggae MC, but my style developed because I love a good melody,” he said. “I became a sing-jay as opposed to a DJ.”

UB40’s current lineup, without Campbell and Wilson, tweeted their condolences Saturday.

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