Brian Travers, UB40 Songwriter and Musician, Dies at 62

by Jacklyn Krol
Lorne Thomson, Redferns

Brian Travers passed away on Sunday, August 22.

The saxophone player was a founding member of the British group UB40. He died at his UK home, surrounded by his family. He was only 62.

The band confirmed his passing in a statement on Facebook.

“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. 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,” it read.

According to The Daily Mail, Brain Travers revealed health struggles. He said that he was going to have a second brain tumor operation in two years. Travers previously suffered a seizure before last year’s Christmas. He underwent the second procedure in January 2021.

An initial MRI scan revealed that he had two tumors. According to The Sun, they were 12mm long and 7mm long. The tumors were joined together. Although he had serious health problems, he managed to perform a concert and return to tour the day after his first surgery. He did have to miss a portion of the band’s 40th anniversary tour back in 2019 though.

Brian Traver’s final performance with the band was in December 2019 at a local Birmingham arena.

Brian Travers and UB40’s Legacy

Brian Travers and the band formed back in 1978 while they were in school. UB40 decided to name the band after the form issued for unemployment benefits (at the time).

You’ll recall that the band had popular songs including “Red Red Wine” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You”. Overall, they’ve sold 100 million records and have over 40 top 40 hits in the UK.

Back in June, UB40 lead singer Duncan Campbell retired from the Grammy nominated band due to his declining health. He was replaced by Matt Doyle. The band then consisted of Robin Campbell, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan, Laurence Parry, Tony Mullings, Martin Meredith and Travers. 

Duncan didn’t want to retire but knew that he needed to after suffering a stroke.

“Unfortunately, due to continued ill health, I have reluctantly decided to retire from the band so as to focus on my recovery,” he said in a statement.

He thanked the fans and band for their support in his time of need.

‘The band have my full support going forward and, of course, my very best wishes for the future with their new singer,” he added. His brother, Robin, is also in the band and additionally confirmed his decision and health status.