Greenwich bound Ali Campbell talks new music and why UB40 are ‘mental cases’

AS LEAD singer and founder of UB40, Ali Campbell was one of the UK’s most successful reggae artists, selling 70million records and bagging Grammy and Brit nominations.

The 54-year-old brummie left the band in 2008 and his solo career has been a critical and commercial success while his old bandmates, who recruited his brother Duncan in his place, have floundered.

Unsurprisingly, Ali has some strong opinions on the subject.

He told Vibe: “I think they’re mental cases.

“They’ve just released a country album. What that is doing to the legacy of UB40 is untold damage.

“When I left them they were the biggest selling reggae band in the world and now they are one of the smallest selling country bands in the world.

“I really can’t understand where they are coming from.

He added: “I haven’t had Christmas dinner with my brother for five years. It was a very acrimonious split and I felt very betrayed by them all.

“Now I think it is the same for the fans, I think they feel betrayed as well.”

While UB40 take a new direction, reggae lover Ali has stuck to his guns.


His new album – his 31st and best yet, he said – is due in the new year and will have a top secret, surprise guest spot.

Ali said: “The whole reason for starting UB40 back in the day was to promote reggae music, because that’s what I love.

“I’m still doing exactly the same thing today, promoting reggae music all over the world.

With a new band behind him, Ali said he feels energised.

He said: “It is a lot easier to work with them because they are all consummate professionals.

“With UB40 we were all self-taught so it was a bit like pulling teeth making records with them.”

The new music also brings him to IndigO2 on December 6, where he expects an audience of hardcore fans where he will play a few new bits and a whole load of his classics.

Ali said: “That’s the one thing I can count on.

“That’s why we’re the ideal festival band because wherever we go in the world, people know the music I’m playing.

“I’m in a lucky position where in the 80s and 90s with UB40, I had 40 top 20 hits so I have got a big catalogue to draw on.

“I’m very proud of what I achieved with UB40.”