Bob Marley’s Son, UB40’s T-Roy, Dead at 64

The teenage son of singer Bob Marley and his wife, Rita, has reportedly died. Reggae musician and record producer, Terence Wilson, known as T-Roy to his fellow bandmates of the group UB40, died Friday at the age of 64 after a long illness.

A representative told the BBC that the musician had been hospitalized earlier this week with pneumonia. Wilson was adopted by reggae legend Bob Marley, his brother, Rory Marley, and his stepfather. Wilson passed away after being flown to the United States in early July from Jamaica.

Wilson was born in rural Jamaica, where he was raised by his auntie, Elizabeth Bolt. He first met Marley at the age of seven when the two formed a band together. “The other day, about 16 years old, he was in the house doing something and I heard a big voice saying ‘Terence Wilson’ and I just went into another room to close the door. I didn’t hear it again,” said T-Roy’s stepmother, Sandra Payne, to the BBC.

Bob Marley gave Wilson his name, “Trayvon T-Roy Wilson,” from which Wilson continued to use in the band. Wilson was his band’s “No. 1 trombonist,” and after stints in bands throughout the 1970s, he formed UB40 with singers Ali Campbell, Astro, Mickey Virtue, Astro’s sister, Bunny Wailer, and Mickey Virtue.

While he started out playing music with Marley, he went on to create his own style of reggae music that went against the regular reggae trend of upbeat, dancehall music. “This is completely different from the other styles of reggae… I wanted to create the sound that was going to come out of Jamaica,” Wilson once said.

Wilson eventually took on the band’s leadership role in the mid-1980s, following the death of Bob Marley in 1981. UB40 made a return to the charts in the early 1980s with the album “Life Is Good” in 1983, and Wilson used the money he made to build a small film studio, which later became “Mighty Sam Cooke Studios.” The studio would eventually form the basis for his film and television production company, GoBeFilm, which gave Wilson the opportunity to play an active role in creating media projects.

While the group’s sound may have been somewhat unique, UB40 helped create the music industry in Jamaica that we know today, in which artists such as Shaggy and Bob Marley also helped create the worldwide success of reggae music. T-Roy and Bob Marley’s son, Ziggy Marley, were friendly and influential through the group.

In 2004, Wilson and UB40 played at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, and in 2006, he was the host of the first Jamaican series of “Eggheads,” a show similar to “Jeopardy” on the West African continent, but in Jamaica. Wilson also hosted the 2009 series of “Celebrity Eggheads” in Jamaica.

In his early days in Kingston, T-Roy was responsible for arranging for several musical acts that played the Marley home on Hope Road. Marley and Wilson were friends and would later be featured in Bob Marley documentary “Marley.” His favorite tradition before going on stage was to drink hot water to make himself relaxed before performing.

T-Roy is survived by his wife, Dandie Wilson.

Terence Wilson appeared on the RSN radio show “Kingston Confidential” every Friday morning. Tune in to listen to the interview here.

Robert Pagliarini is a CBS Local contributor. Follow him on Twitter.

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