Terence Wilson of Reggae Band UB40 dies aged 64


As Terence Wilson aka Astro told the story, he and his reggae band, UB40, weren’t even sure which song they were covering when they decided to record what may have become their biggest hit. They had been struck by a ska version of the song “Red Red Wine”, recorded by Tony Tribe in 1969.

The seven-inch vinyl carried the credit “N. Diamond,” Wilson said, and he and his band mates assumed it was referring to a Jamaican artist named Negus Diamond.

“You could have knocked us out with a feather when we found out it was actually Neil Diamond,” he told Billboard in 2018.

The song was included on UB40’s 1983 cover album, “Labor of Love,” and a simplified version released as a single became a modest success. Then, five years later, the longer version became an even bigger hit. Ali Campbell is the lead vocalist for both, but the longer version features Mr. Wilson’s signature toast, or rapped vocals, which begin with “Red red wine, you make me feel so good; you rock me all the time.

How popular has this interpretation become? So popular that Mr. Diamond began performing the song – which he initially interpreted as a dark ballad – with a catchy reggae beat and including a toast section in which he mimicked Mr. Wilson’s cadence. “Red wine, you make me feel so good, hear it all the time on the radio,” Mr. Diamond sang in Buffalo in 1989. “I don’t care if the words are all wrong; I don’t care because they play my song!

Mr. Wilson died on November 6, Campbell announced on social media. He was 64 years old. No cause of death has been given and publications have not indicated where he died.

Mr. Wilson joined Mr. Campbell and six others at UB40 in 1978 in Birmingham, England. None had a broad musical background, but they developed their own sound and style; Mr. Wilson was the toaster, trumpeter and percussionist.

The Eight were a racially diverse group, unusual for the reggae genre, most of whose stars were black; Mr. Wilson was one of two black members. But they were united by one thing when they got together: they were all unemployed. The name of the group comes from a government document, the Unemployment Benefit Form 40.

Soon UB40 was famous and was touring the world. Interviewed in 2005 by The Dominion Post of New Zealand on the occasion of the release of the band’s 23rd album, Mr. Wilson expressed his change of fate simply: “It’s like winning the lottery every week.

Terence Wilson was born on June 24, 1957 in Birmingham. His nickname came long before he thought of being part of a reggae band.

“As a kid, I used to run with four or five other kids wearing these Doc Martin boots,” he told the Dominion Post, “and the model’s real name was Astronauts.”

Mr. Wilson was an unemployed cook when he joined the band, which had already started rehearsing, in 1978. He and the others resisted the trend of the day – punk – and instead tried making music rather than making music. ‘they listened and loved. .

“We knew we had something new that had never been heard before,” Campbell told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2019.

Beginning with playing in clubs, the band in 1980 opened for the Pretenders on tour, greatly increasing their notoriety, especially in Britain. Chrissie Hynde, the singer of the Pretenders, had heard the band and had become a champion; in 1985, she was the guest of another of the band’s best-known songs, a cover of “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher.

Much of the band’s popularity was based on covers – among their other biggest hits was their version of a song made famous by Elvis Presley, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” released in 1993. But the band did. also recorded original material, much of with political advantage. One of the first flagship songs, in 1981, was called “One in Ten”, the title referring to unemployment statistics.

Mr. Campbell split from the original group in 2008 in a management dispute. Mickey Virtue, the keyboardist, joined him soon after, and Mr. Wilson joined them in 2013; they continued to perform under the name UB40 with Ali, Astro and Mickey. (Another group continued as UB40.) Mr. Virtue left the breakup group in 2018, but Mr. Wilson and Mr. Campbell continued to perform and record.

Information on Mr. Wilson’s survivors was not immediately available.

Although the original UB40 lineup eventually fractured, Wilson said his musical goals remained steadfast.

“We’re still on our same mission, which is to popularize reggae music around the world,” he told the Dayton Daily News in 2017, when he and Mr. Campbell brought their version of UB40 to the Rose Music Center. in Huber Heights, Ohio. “We are all delighted that the genre is now an international language that everyone understands.

“It’s played all over the world, and not everyone has English as their mother tongue,” he continued. “They don’t necessarily understand what’s being said, but everyone understands a good bassline and drum beat. I think a bass line can say over 1000 words.


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