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Saxa, Saxophonist For Legendary Rock Band, Passes Away

Saxa, the eponymous and amazingly talented saxophonist for UK ska-pop band The Beat has passed away at the age of 87.

It turns out that Saxa’s real name was Lionel Augustus Martin. He played saxophone in the band, also known as the English Beat, starting in 1978, according to online musical encyclopedias.

Saxa was born in Croft's Hill, Jamaica in 1930, and was in his 40s and already an established musician when he joined The Beat. He had already played with well-known musicians such as Laurel Aitken, Desmond Dekker and Prince Buster.

His initial notable appearance with The Beat was on the tune "Tears of a Clown." Saxa worked with the group on three albums, at the same time touring with R.E.M., David Bowie, Talking Heads, the Clash and the Police.

"Dear Saxa, thank you for your pure melody, your insights on music, love, and life, and for your constant kindness to me," Beat frontman Dave Wakeling commented in a tribute. "You now deserve to take your place as Top Tenor, First Chair, in St. Peters Orchestra, just as you had practiced for your whole life. Me love you Mr. Martin.”

Beat member Ranking Roger posted another tribute to Saxa on social media.

"I am so very sad and sorry to have to announce to the world that the great Saxa passed away in his sleep last night," Roger noted. "I am in tears and will miss you so much. Nobody could ever be like you."

"We will miss you dearly my mentor," Roger continued.

"Sad to hear that good old Saxa has died, aged 87, after a life well-lived," Horace Panter, of The Specials, posted online.

Based on the description on the band's website, The English Beat was formed back in 1979.

Note that after the super group disbanded in 1983, Saxa played in the International Beat in the early 1990s, with English Beat drummer Everett Morton and singer Tony Beet.

Photos: Tumblr

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