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Former UB40 singer Astro dies after short illness

Terence Wilson, a member of reggae band UB40 who was known by his stage name Astro, died after a short illness, his current band said. He was 64.

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Wilson was a member of UB40 for more than 30 years before leaving the group in 2013 to perform with breakaway group UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, the BBC reported.

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

UB40 was noted for its hits “Red Red Wine” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love.”

Wilson joined UB40 in 1979, and the group had more than 50 entries on the U.K. charts, The Guardian reported.

The Birmingham-based group was named after the government’s unemployment benefit form at the time, the BBC reported. The group sold more than 70 million records and had three No. 1 hits in the U.K.

The band’s songs gave voice to political issues, including working-class dissatisfaction with the status quo, CNN reported.

“I went through the same rigmarole as most black people in the late 70s,” Astro told The Guardian in May 2021.

“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,” Wilson said.

The current UB40 lineup paid tribute to Wilson in a tweet 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,” the band wrote. “Our sincere condolences to his family.”

Wilson acquired his nickname as a child because he wore a pair of Dr. Martens boots with the model name “Astronaut,” the BBC reported.

“Fortunately, no one called me astronaut because it is rather a mouthful so they shortened it to Astro and it has stuck ever since,” Wilson said in a 2016 interview with UK Music Reviews.

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