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UB40 Founding Member, Saxophonist Brian Travers Dead at 62

UB40 saxophonist and founding member Brian Travers died Sunday, August 22nd, after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to a statement from the band. He was 62.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our comrade, brother, founding UB40 member and musical legend, Brian David Travers,” the band wrote on social media. “Brian passed away yesterday evening with his family by his side, after a long and heroic battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with Brian’s wife Lesley, his daughter Lisa and son Jamie. We are all devastated by this news and ask that you respect the family’s need for privacy at this time.”

A British reggae/pop band, UB40 formed in 1978 — taking their name from an unemployment form — and had its share of hits over the years, from their take on Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” to a spin on Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” The band also earned four Grammy nominations, all in the reggae category.

Rolling Stone previously called UB40’s 1983 album Labour of Love one of the best records of the Eighties, writing: “Labour of Love, by Britain’s UB40, was exactly that: an enjoyable way of paying tribute to the reggae tunes that meant the most to the band members when they were growing up.”

UB40 splintered in 2008 when frontman Ali Campbell left the band, leading to the exodus of even more members. As a result, there were two warring factions using the same name, leading to legal issues. Frontman Duncan Campbell retired from music in June of this year, replaced by Kioko musician Matt Doyle. The band was and is still active as of 2021, though; Travers’ last performance was in 2019 at the Arena Birmingham, according to the Guardian.

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