UB40 Founding Member Astro – Terence Wilson – Dies

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Terence “Astro” Wilson

Terence Wilson, who used the stage name “Astro” as a founding member of the British reggae group UB40, and later, a spinoff band, died November 6, 2021, after a short illness. His death, at age 64, was announced by the spinoff group, UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, on their Facebook page.

“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,” read the post. “The world will never be the same without him.” They had planned to perform on Nov. 26. A 2022 U.K. tour was to have included a performance at the Isle of Wight festival in June.

Astro, a vocalist, who also played percussion and trumpet, was born June 24, 1957. He and Campbell left the original group that they co-founded (in Birmingham, U.K., in 1978) with several others, departing acrimoniously in 2008, citing business and financial reasons, to form the spinoff. While they were together, UB40 earned three #1 singles in the U.K., a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red, Red Wine,” a cover of the Sonny & Cher hit, “I Got You Babe” (featuring Chrissie Hynde), and a cover of “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You.”

“Red Red Wine” only went to #34 as a single in the U.S. in 1983. It was re-released in 1988 – this time including the toast in the middle by UB40’s Astro that goes “Red Red Wine, you make me feel so fine/You keep me rocking all of the time…” that was edited out of the ’83 single. The reissue ultimately reached #1 in the U.S.

Diamond has said it’s one of his favorite covers of a song he has written.

The group took its name from the form used in the U.K. for individuals claiming unemployment benefits.

Duncan Campbell, who took over as the lead singer for the original UB40, upon his brother Ali’s departure in 2008, retired in 2021, following a stroke he suffered in 2020. The original group offered a brief tribute to Astro. “We have heard… 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.”

Ali Campbell, born Feb. 15, 1959, has previously praised his longtime bandmate. “Astro was under used in UB40’s early days. 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.”

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2021

Watch Ali and Astro perform “Red Red Wine” (unplugged) in 2016

Best Classic Bands Staff

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