UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers dead after 'heroic battle with cancer'

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The searing saxophone of Brian Travers was a hallmark sound of British reggae-pop band UB40.

Travers, a founding member of the ‘80s and ‘90s hitmakers, died Sunday at the age of 62.

The band confirmed the news on their official Twitter account Monday, stating, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our comrade, brother, founding UB40 member and musical legend, Brian David Travers. Brian passed away yesterday evening 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 that he needed a second brain tumor operation and that he had “no fears” about the procedure or his own mortality.

"You have got to live in the now, not in the past and not what's going to be," he said.

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Formed in Birmingham, England, in the late ‘70s, UB40 – named for the unemployment benefit form distributed by the U.K. government – released their politically charged debut, “Signing Off,” in 1980. The album performed well in the band’s native England, but it wasn’t until 1983’s “Labour of Love” and their chugging cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” that radio and MTV ubiquity reached the U.S.

Travers, who is also credited as an arranger and lyricist within the band, supplied a signature ska-reggae sound to follow-up hits that also recast classic songs with the band’s sound.

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UB40’s versions of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” (with Chrissie Hynde), Elvis Presley’s “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love with You,” Al Green’s “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” and The Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do” all achieved Top 40 prominence on the Billboard charts between 1985 and 1993.

While the band’s success in America came only with reimagined covers, UB40 was a frequent chart presence in England with original songs including “If It Happens Again” and “Sing Our Own Song.”

Travers told the Birmingham Mail that although UB40 shared its writing credits, he was the "master hook maker - 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 reggae categories. In 1984, the band was tapped for a nomination for best British group at the Brit Awards.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UB40's Brian Travers dead at 62 after battle with cancer