RIP Saxa from The English Beat

The English Beat, one of the great bands from the second wave of ska, had some genuine Jamaican DNA in their sound thanks to Lionel Augustus Martin, known to everyone as Saxa.

Saxa was born in  Croft’s Hill, in Clarendon Parish Jamaica n January 5, 1930, and played saxophone with some of that country’s great first wave ska performers including Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. Immigrating to England after Jamaica’s independence, he joined The Beat in the late 70s when it was in is 40s. His first major appearance with the band was on this song.

Sax was with the beat for three albums before they splintered. He found work with The International Beat with the group’s drummer, Everett Morton along with singer Tony Beet. When that group ran its course, Saxa retired and lived in Birmingham.

Dave Wakeling had this to say:

Dear Saxa ( Lionel Augustus Martin), . Thank you for your pure melody, your insights on music, love and life, and for your constant kindness to me. You now deserve to take your place as Top Tenor, First Chair, in St Peters Archestra, just as you had practiced for your whole life. Me love you Mr Martin. David xx

This was from Ranking Roger:

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. :(((

Saxa died on Wednesday (May 3) at the age of 87.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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