Music has the power to eclipse time and death. It can linger on long after what is lost. Music has the power to keep a soul alive.
Saxa, a saxophone player for 2-Tone era band ska-pop band The (English) Beat died Wednesday at the age of 87. Born Lionel Augustus Martin, Saxa was a Jamaican-born saxophone player who had played with some of Ska’s greatest including Prince Buster and Desmond Dexter before leading his talents to the Beat. Saxa was nearing 50 and was already an established musician but that didn’t stop the band from recruiting him.
His former band mate announced the sad news via a Facebook post.
“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. I am in tears and will miss you so much. Nobody could ever be like you. We will miss you dearly my mentor.”
Bringing Jamaican authenticity and sound, Saxa was able to distinguish the Beat – dubbed the English Beat in America from the rest. The band’s signature sound can be heard on some of their favorites including, “Mirror on the Bathroom,” “Too Nice to Talk To,” and “Hands Off She’s Mine.” Throughout the years, the songs by the Beats continue to be about race and problems we all face and they have continued to donate profits from their music to help organizations.
Saxa can be heard on all three Beats albums – “I just Can’t Stop It” in 1980, “Wha’ppen?” in 1981 and “Special Beat Service” in 1982. He also contributed projects outside the Beats including General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.
The band broke up in 1983 and Saxa went on to play in the International Beat from 1990-95, along with the English Beat’s drummer Everett Morton and singer Tony Beet. Among the musical acts that he toured with in his career include David Bowie, the Clash, the Police, R.E.M., Talking Heads and the Specials.
Tributes to the late saxophone player poured in through Twitter after news broke of Saxa’s death. Tributes that remind the world of how loved the late saxophone player was.
Read below of some of those heartfelt tributes by people who knew him.
Musical Youth, an iconic British reggae band tweeted; RIP to our great friend Lionel ‘Saxa’ Martin, original saxophonist for The Beat
Though Saxa will be missed by fans and loves ones, his music will live on forever.