The English Beat with Saxa, in hat, at center
Lionel Augustus Martin, the Jamaican-born saxophone player better known as Saxa, who played with ska legends Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker before helping lead the second wave with The Beat, died on Wednesday at the age of 87, his former band announced.
The Beat’s Ranking Roger posted on Facebook:
“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.”
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Saxa helped infuse 2 Tone mainstays The Beat — dubbed The English Beat in America — with some Jamaican authenticity and helped craft the band’s signature sound on favorites like “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Too Nice to Talk To” and “Hands Off She’s Mine.”
Saxa played on all three Beat albums — 1980’s I Just Can’t Stop It, 1981’s Wha’ppen? and 1982’s Special Beat Service — and would contribute to post-Beat projects General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.
Below, see tributes to the late saxophone player, and listen to some of his music.
Its w/ deep sadness at his passing & profound joy for having known him we mark the passing of the ❤️ of #TheBeat Lionel Augustus Martin/Saxa pic.twitter.com/dTnnYuQRbP
— The English Beat (@TheEnglishBeat) May 3, 2017
Sad to hear that good old #Saxa has died, aged 87, after a life well-lived. pic.twitter.com/ReP62skLaM
— Horace Panter (@horacepanterart) May 3, 2017
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Ugh. I was just listening to some (English) Beat yesterday.