AT THE height of their fame, UB40 topped the charts across the globe and sold more than 70million records, cementing their position as Britain’s biggest reggae band.
After forming in Birmingham in 1979, the eight-piece rejected the stereotypes surrounding bands of young musicians and maintained an almost identical line-up for nearly three decades.
But all that changed in 2008. Frontman Ali Campbell quit in a cloud of animosity alongside keyboardist Mickey Virtue. They were later joined by Astro.
The remaining five, including Ali’s brother Robin, replaced the frontman with another Campbell brother, Duncan, and a court case ensued as both claimed the right to use the UB40 moniker.
Look closely enough and you’ll see the rival groups taking small nibbles at each other. On June 25, Team Robin (UB40) will play a 40th anniversary show at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Next month, Ali’s outfit (UB40 Featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey) will play the same venue as part of a Teenage Cancer Trust gig.
Coincidental, perhaps. But certainly for Ali, the dust still has not settled. He said: “I keep seeing Duncan singing my songs on YouTube and words fail me.
“I think he’s destroying the legacy of the band and the worst and most embarrassing thing is that people think it’s me. That truly makes my skin crawl.”
Ali hasn’t spoken to Robin or Duncan in almost a decade and he can’t envision a time when he’ll want to. “F*** them. I was betrayed by them all,” he said.
“There’s not really any point in the me getting back in touch. Too much water has gone under the bridge.
“We try to ignore them in the hope they go away. It’s as simple as that.”
Ali, Astro and Mickey have a new album coming out provocatively titled A Real Labour of Love. It’s a continuation of the original band’s trio of Labour of Love albums – reggae
Duncan is destroying the legacy of the band. It makes my skin crawl ALI CAMPBELL
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