His name was Terence Wilson, but everyone knew him by his stage name Astro. The former singer and founding member of the British reggae group UB40, which rose to fame in the 1980s with hits like “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” has died at the age of 64. The news was given by the same band on social networks. “We are devastated and heartbroken to have to tell you that our beloved Astro died today after a very short illness. The world will never be the same without him”, the message of the band entrusted to Twitter.
The pop reggae cover “Red Red Wine” alone has sold more than 100 million records. The group also held the record – shared with Madness – for the most weeks spent on the UK singles chart in the 1980s. Another of the band’s founders, Brian Travers, died in August.
UB40 was the name of the form provided to people applying for unemployment benefit. The group came from Birmingham and the lack of work in the British city was one of the sources of inspiration for the songs, as well as the youth discontent with the political and economic status quo. UB40 created a mix of pop, reggae and rock. Their first single, Food fort thought, came fifth on the UK chart. Three years later, the triumph of Red red wine came. Other hits followed like I think it’s going rain today, One in ten, the cover of I got you babe.
Drummer Jimmy Brown said the group was being watched by the British secret services. “MI5 was tapping our phones, watching our homes, all sorts of things,” he told al Guardian. “We weren’t planning the revolution, but if the revolution had happened, we knew which side we would be on.”