“We are absolutely devastated and completely heartbroken,” said a statement on Ali Campbell and Astro’s Twitter account.
“The world will never be the same without him.”
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. pic.twitter.com/GRDjtApyzyhttps://bb7497898c9aabbe1c1b8ae9dea0a456.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The group also enjoyed success around the world, including in the US, where Red Red Wine went to number one, as did another cover, Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, which spent seven weeks at number one in 1993.https://bb7497898c9aabbe1c1b8ae9dea0a456.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The original line-up played together for three decades before Ali Campbell left in 2008.
In an interview with the Guardian in May, Astro spoke about the band becoming the voice of working-class people’s dissatisfaction with political and global issues after they formed in 1978.
He told the paper he experienced the “same rigmarole as most black people in the late 70s”, referring to a law which allowed people to be stopped and searched by police if they were deemed to be acting suspiciously – which Astro said 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,” he added.https://bb7497898c9aabbe1c1b8ae9dea0a456.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
After the news of Astro’s death broke, BBC Radio West Midlands played the UB40 track Sing Our Own Song as a tribute – with presenter Natalie Graham calling his death “very, very sad”.
“Astro really was a wonderful and an incredible human being and obviously the legacy of the music that we still get to enjoy from the likes of UB40 is something very, very special,” she said.
He acquired his nickname as a child because he wore a pair of Dr Martens boots with the model name “Astronaut”, the musician explained in a 2016 interview with website UK Music Reviews.
“Fortunately, no one called me astronaut because it is rather a mouthful so they shortened it to Astro and it has stuck ever since,” he added.https://bb7497898c9aabbe1c1b8ae9dea0a456.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Asked how he felt about touring and performing live, Astro said: “There is no job on this planet that gives you the job satisfaction that I get. I live to be on stage.”
In August, fellow UB40 founding member and saxophonist Brian Travers died of cancer aged 62.