Brian Travers, saxophone player and founding member of the Brit pop and reggae band UB40, died Sunday surrounded by family at his home in the UK. He was 62.
His iconic “Red Red Wine” band confirmed Travers passing after a “long and heroic battle” with brain cancer in an emotional statement via Facebook.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our comrade, brother, founding UB40 member and musical legend, Brian David Travers,” the announcement reads. “…We are all devastated by this news and ask that you respect the family’s need for privacy at this time.”
The musician had recently revealed that he was facing his second brain tumor operation in as many years after suffering a seizure before Christmas, the Daily Mail reported.
Travers co-founded UB40 in 1978 with various pals from across Birmingham in the UK, choosing their band name as a reference to a form issued to people — including all of the bandmates — claiming unemployment benefits during the era, according to a 2018 band retrospective in the Telegraph.
The band went on to produce international hits such as “Falling In Love With You” and sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide, charting dozens of Top 40 songs in the UK.
Travers’ last performance with UB40 was a December 2019 concert held in their hometown Arena Birmingham. Meanwhile, frontman Duncan Campbell announced his retirement from music at age 63 in June, citing ongoing health issues.
“I have reluctantly decided to retire from the band so as to focus on my recovery,” Campbell said at the time, wishing replacement lead vocalist Matt Doyle well. “I am very grateful, and would like to express my sincere thanks to the fans for all their support during this time and indeed throughout my time with UB40. The band have my full support going forward and, of course, my very best wishes for the future with their new singer.”
New frontman Doyle joined the most recent UB40 line-up of Robin Campbell, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan, Laurence Parry, Tony Mullings and Martin Meredith.
Meanwhile, Travers is survived wife Lesley, his daughter Lisa and son Jamie, according to UB40’s statement.