British band UB40 have confirmed that the beloved Astro who was a founding and former member of UB40 has passed away dues to a sudden illness. Fans around the world will be saddened to hear the news of this legendary musician’s passing. The news was just announced on the ALI CAMPBELL & ASTRO Twitter account yesterday. The announcement stated the group was devastated to inform the public about the passing of Astro after a short illness. We do not know if it was covid related yet. They also wrote how they felt the would will be a different place without him.
The band Ub40 became a household name in the 1980s with their huge hit “Red Red Wine.” The group originated on the eastern side of the Atlantic in Birmingham, England in 1978. The group UB40 released their first album during the summer of 1980 entitled Signing Off. The album featured Astro as a vocalist and horn player on the album. Astro’s real name is Terrance Lawrence. The legendary lead singer of the band earned the nickname Astro as a kid when he used to wear Dr Marten’s Astronaut Boots. Astro had joined the band in 1979. UB40’s other original members were Ali Campbell, Yomi Babayemi, Jimmy Lynn, Brian Travers, and Mickey Virtue. Brian Travers passed away during the summer of 2021 at the age of 62 due to cancer.
The group’s second album was released in 1981 entitled Present Arms. They followed up that record with a new album in 1982 entitled UB44. However, it was their fourth album that turned them into international stars. That album called Labor Of Love was released in 1984. The Labor Of Love album contained their huge hit single “Red Red Wine,” which was written by Neil Diamond. The album also contained many more hit singles such as “Many Rivers to Cross.” “Please Don’t Make Me Cry,”and “Cherry Oh Baby.”
While the band had become very popular in the United States, their core audience was in the United Kingdom where they were from. The entire Labor Of Love album consisted of reggae versions of some of the band favorite songs. The album’s success would fuel three sequels to the album that were released at different points in the band’s career. In 1989 the group released Labor Of Love II. Almost another ten years would go by until UB40 released Labour of Love III. The band would continue their decade in between pattern of cover albums when they issued Labour of Love IV in 2010.
While Astro was in the group UB40 released eighteen studio albums. They included the albums Signing Off in 1980, Present Arms in 1981, UB44 in 1982, the first of the cover album Labour of Love in 1983, Geffery Morgan in 1984, Baggariddim in 1985, Rat in the Kitchen in 1986, UB40 in 1988, the second covers album Labour of Love II in 1989, Promises and Lies in 1993, Guns in the Ghetto in 1997, Labour of Love III in 1998,Cover Up in 2001, Homegrown in 2003, Who You Fighting For? in 2005, TwentyFourSeven in 2008, Labour of Love IV in 2010, and Getting Over the Storm in 2013.
In 2013 Astro left the band after recording the Getting Over the Storm album. Original member and lead vocalist Ali Campbell left UB40 in 2008 to began a solo career. Eventually UB40’s keyboardist Michael Virtue would also leave the band and join up with Ali Campbell in his new group called The Dep Band. Many years later, after Astro left UB40, he teamed up with Ali Campbell and Michael Virtue in a band they would call ‘UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey.” Of course this would fuel legal name issues between the Ali, Astro and Mickey and the current lineup of UB40 that were still performing. It was sort of the same thing The Beach Boys would go through as well as many other bands in which members spit and formed their own versions of a classic band.
At the time of his passing this weekend, Astro was still together with Ali Campbell in the configuration they called UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro. The group had a tour set that they were selling tickets for with shows set for February and March 2022. As of this morning, the website selling the tickets for those shows called the ‘The Unprecedented Tour’ 2022 has been shut down. The group was also set to perform at the Isle Of Wight festival in June of 2022. The other configuration of UB40 gave their condolences on Twitter to their former band member.