The death of Birmingham legend Astro is mourned around the world – this was the impact of his music as part of UB40.
But his passing once again sheds light on one of the most acrimonious splits in music history.
Astro co-founded the group in 1978 – but members of the group UB40 gave their reactions to his death from the two groups that now use the name.
READ MORE: Root cause of UB40 war between Ali and Robin Campbell finally revealed
The performer – real name Terence Wilson – was a member of the original UB40 from 1978 to 2013.
He then left to join a ânewâ UB40 with original singer Ali Campbell.
A statement on Twitter from Astro’s UB40 group said: âWe are absolutely devastated and completely heartbroken to have to tell you that our beloved Astro passed away today after a very brief illness.
âThe world will never be the same without him. “
The new UB40 with Ali and Astro performed on stage this year and was due to shoot in 2022.
Meanwhile, the first group UB40 also remains – with members James Brown, Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan.
Most recently, Norman’s nephew, Matt Doyle, joined as lead singer in replacement of Duncan Campbell, who retired due to health issues.
This UB40 released its own statement in tribute to the former band member and friend Astro.
“We received the sad news tonight that ex-UB40 member Terence Wilson, better known as Astro, has passed away from a brief illness. Our sincere condolences to his family.”
The split of the group has been well documented through a long war of words between Ali and his brothers Duncan and Robin.
The original roster also included Brian Travers, who sadly passed away in August of cancer.
All of the founding members were friends who grew up together in Birmingham and wanted to make music.
Their unique brand of reggae catapulted them to stardom and they achieved worldwide success with hits such as Kingstown Town and Red, Red Wine.
In 2008, when leader Ali left, it was not an amicable breakup.
That same year, he told The Times he was forced to leave after numerous trade disputes. He said former colleagues accused him of presenting a solo album to the band and becoming an “egotist”.
Mickey Virtue, the band’s keyboardist, backed Campbell and also quit.
In a post on the band’s web forum after Ali left, saxophonist Brian accused Ali of using the conflict to “sell tickets for his next tour.”
In a 2016 interview, Ali told BirminghamLive how he helped fund UB40’s instruments when the band was founded in 1978 – after receiving compensation for being ‘glazed’ in his face while celebrating his performance. 17th birthday party at the Red Lion in Kings Heath.
Ali said he received Â£ 4,500 in criminal injury compensation “at a time when I was getting Â£ 7.50 a week unemployed when I was 19”.
He said: âI gave Robin and Duncan a quarter of it for an auto company they lost in a matter of weeks and spent the rest on outfitting the band.
âMe, Earl and Jimmy were the first members of UB40. I only invited Robin into the band because he knew the House of the Rising Sun chords. “
And an interview with Good Morning Britain last year, Ali revealed that time hasn’t healed old wounds and that he’s not in touch with any of his former bandmates – including his brothers.
Ali said Duncan and Robin had “betrayed” him.
He said: “I was kind of betrayed by them, and I left citing issues with management. All of that leadership was written off, so I am vindicated.”
GMB host and colleague Brummie Adil Ray read a statement from Brian saying, “Ali was my best friend, we went to art school together, he was the best man at my wedding, I didn’t. haven’t seen in ten years, he moved from Birmingham. It beats me up why we’re not together. “
Ali replied, “I’m just happy to continue promoting reggae with Astro and our version of UB40.
“I think we have the most prominent reggae band on the road in the world right now, so it wouldn’t do any good to go back to what we did years and years ago.”
Astro left UB40 in 2013, five years after Ali, saying it made him “miserable.”
Astro likened the band to “a ship without a rudder,” saying his heart was not in their latest album, Getting Over The Storm.
He was also disappointed that his contribution had only been as a backing vocalist – so he decided to join Ali in the new UB40.
In 2016, eight years after Ali left the group, Robin and Duncan Campbell spoke to BirminghamLive about the family breakup and the pain it caused their mother.
Robin said, âWe don’t talk about it with mom; She refuses. We are all his babies; she does not discuss it and refuses to take sides. She’s 83, that’s not the kind of thing she needs in her life … It’s very sad. Ali just took on a new life, went somewhere else and sort of cut us all off. “