UB40 feud gets uglier
In March, original singer Ali Campbell lost his bid to block a high court injunction from brothers Robin and Duncan Campbell in UB40, the reggae outfit he co-founded in 1978 and quit in 2008.
Now touring as UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey alongside long-time trumpeter Terence “Astro” Wilson and keyboardist Mickey Virtue, he says the verdict will be postponed indefinitely as lawyers hash it out.
“It’s disappointing and it’s really silly,” Campbell says from London. “Because they don’t stand to win anything. They’re already called UB40 and they’re dying a death.
“With these situations, they go on for years and the only people that win are the lawyers. They’ll keep it going for as long as they’re getting paid.
“In the meantime, the fans are voting with their feet.”
That is true of Australian fans as well as those in the UK and America, where Ali, Astro and Mickey have been selling out arenas performing greatest hits like Red Red Wine, Kingston Town and Here I Am (Come and Take Me).
In WA, they played to 5000 fans at Red Hill Auditorium in 2014, with a show at the 3000-capacity Fremantle Arts Centre coming in January.
The UB40 featuring brothers Duncan and Robin previously played the smaller Metropolis Fremantle, with a Metro City date scheduled for November 27 next year.
These numbers are no surprise given Ali Campbell’s voice is the defining feature of the band.
“We’re basically saving the legacy of the biggest reggae band in the world,” the 57-year-old says.
“I had to sit and listen to Duncan, my brother, destroying my songs, just murdering them. That’s why we’re touring in America again, and Australia, to remind everyone who the real UB40 is.”
Neither side is able to copyright the name because it was borrowed from the UK’s Unemployment Benefit Form 40, so it’s anyone’s guess who wins. Either way, Campbell is certain there won’t be a reunion.
“That could absolutely never happen,” he says.
“The reuniting has happened already. Astro’s come back with me and Mickey and that’s what the fans were waiting for.
“I wouldn’t appear on the same stage as Duncan because I think he’s shockingly bad.
“He’s a folk singer trying to sing reggae music.
“And as far as the backing band is concerned, I’ve got the hottest reggae band in the world at the moment,” Campbell adds.
“It would be moving backwards, musically.”
UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue play Fremantle Arts Centre on January 10, 2017. Tickets from Oztix.