Ali Campbell, born Alistair Ian Campbell, the lead singer of UB40, a British reggae band is scheduled to perform in Nairobi on 28th November at the Carnivore Restaurant, this is against a backdrop of his recent fall out with the band formed in 1978.
The band members began as friends who knew each other from various colleges and schools across Birmingham. The name “UB40” was selected in reference to a paper form issued by the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) at the time of the band’s formation for claiming unemployment benefit. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40.
Before any of them could play their instruments, Ali Campbell and Brian Travers travelled around Birmingham promoting the band, putting up UB40 posters. The band purchased its first instruments from Woodroffe’s Musical Instruments with £4,000 in compensation money that Campbell, who would become the lead singer, received after a bar fight during his 17th birthday celebration.
In February this year, 30,000 Ugandan fans were gazing at the band, many unaware that the band were honouring their final live commitment. By that time a storm of claims and counterclaims had already broken out. UB40 said that Campbell had placed the promotion of his solo album Running Free over his duties with the band. On January 29 a statement from Campbell’s solicitors stated that the singer had left to seek “a resolution to ongoing long-term issues that have arisen with the business managers of UB40”.
As Kenyans hope to get their pay before friday to watch the man behind some of the greatest reggae hits, most might not think that the breakup will have any effect on the planned show. I however do get the feeling that the red red wine will not taste the same. Ali will not have the same conviction saying ‘I’ve got you babe’ or confessing that he indeed has many rivers to cross.
Very few artists who break away from bands are able to still give the same quality of music, for some, the breakaway becomes the onset of their personal problems with drugs, promiscuity etc( a good example is Bobby Brown who left the group New Edition)
The feud between UB40 took a further twist when it was announced that lead singer Ali Campbell would be replaced by a new member – his brother Duncan.
Ali’s explaination as to why he was leaving the Band after almost 30 years was because management difficulties had become “intolerable”. He claimed the disagreements had been going on for nearly five years and he was “deeply unhappy” with many decisions. A UB40 spokesman disputed his comments over the situation with management.
Whatever his reasons for leaving the band, I hope he has thought everything through lest he becomes a shadow of his former self. Ego has a way of making us do stupid things.