Former UB40 member Astro, real name Terence Wilson, has died after a short illness, his current band has confirmed.
The musician went on to perform with breakaway group UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro.
A statement on the band’s official Twitter said: “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 world will never be the same without him. We ask you to please respect his family’s privacy at this incredibly difficult time.”
UB40 enjoyed sustained success with more than 50 entries in the UK singles charts – including Red Red Wine and (I Can’t Help) Falling in Love with You. The group sold about 100m albums worldwide.
After leaving the band in 2013, Astro and former members Ali Campbell and Mickey Virtue reformed with a breakaway group.
In an interview with the Guardian in May, Astro spoke about the band being the voice of informed working-class disaffection with several political and global issues when they formed in 1978.
He said: “I went through the same rigmarole as most black people in the late 70s,” recalling the “sus law” that allowed the arrests of people deemed to be acting suspiciously, often on flimsy, racist pretexts.
“It was a weekly occurrence. 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.”
In August, UB40 saxophone player and songwriter Brian Travers died at the age of 62. The founding member of the reggae band died at his home in Moseley, Birmingham, surrounded by his family.