Brian Travers’ searing saxophone was a hallmark sound of British reggae-pop group UB40.
Travers, a founding member of the ’80s and’ 90s hitmakers, died Sunday at the age of 62.
The group confirmed the news on their official Twitter account Monday, declaring: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our comrade, brother, founding member of UB40 and musical legend, Brian David Travers. Brian passed away last night with his family by his side, after a long and heroic battle with cancer.
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In 2019, the BBC reported that Travers had undergone surgery to remove two brain tumors.
In January, Travers told the Birmingham Mail he needed a second operation for a brain tumor and had “no concerns” about the procedure or his own death.
“You have to live in the present, not in the past and not in what is going to be,” he said.
Formed in Birmingham, England in the late 1970s, UB40 – named after the unemployment benefit form distributed by the British government – released their politically charged debut album, “Signing Off”, in 1980. The album performed well in the band’s native England, but it wasn’t until 1983’s ‘Labor of Love’ and their catchy cover of Neil Diamond’s ‘Red Red Wine’ that the ubiquity of radio and MTV did. reached the United States.
Travers, who is also credited as an arranger and lyricist within the band, provided signature ska-reggae sound to subsequent hits that also recast classic songs with the band’s sound.
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UB40’s versions of “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher (with Chrissie Hynde), “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love with You by Elvis Presley”, “Here I Am (Come and Take Me) ”by Al Green and The“ The Way You Do The Things You Do ”by Temptations all reached the Top 40 on the Billboard charts between 1985 and 1993.
While the group’s success in America only came with reimagined covers, UB40 was a frequent chart presence in England with original songs such as “If It Happens Again” and “Sing Our Own Song”.
Travers told the Birmingham Mail that although UB40 shared his writing credits, he was the “hook master – you can’t listen to any of our songs without hearing my hooks.”
Between 1987 and 2006, UB40 was nominated for four Grammy Awards in the reggae categories. In 1984, the group was shortlisted for a nomination for Best British Group at the Brit Awards.