UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers has passed away. He was 62 years old.
The band confirmed the news in a statement, which honoured Travers’ legacy as their “comrade, brother, founding UB40 member and musical legend.” The statement also notes that Travers died with “his family by his side” after enduring “a long and heroic battle with cancer.”
Travers helped found UB40 in Birmingham in 1978, along with vocalist Ali Campbell, bass player Earl Falconer, guitarist Robin Campbell, drummer Jimmy Brown and percussionist Norman Hassan. They added keyboardist Mickey Virtue and percussionist/vocalist Astro in 1979 and this classic lineup remained steady up until 2008.
Specialising in a pop-reggae sound, UB40 were successful from the very beginning. Their debut single ‘Food For Thought’ reached number four in the UK Singles Chart and their 1980 album Signing Off went Platinum in the UK. They’re best known for their versions of Neil Diamond’s ‘Red Red Wine’ and Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ (feat. Chrissie Hynde)
UB40 have always been a left-wing and politically conscious outfit, whose name is short for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40. In 2019, Travers told Birmingham Live that “[they’re] all socialists and Labour supporters.”
Travers remained a member of UB40 up until his death, featuring prominently on 2019’s pro-Jeremy Corbyn album, For the Many. He leaves behind a wife and two children.