UB40 – Kingston Town
UB40 are a British reggae/pop band formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band has had more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and has also achieved considerable international success. They have been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984 were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. One of the world’s best-selling music artists, UB40 have sold over 70 million records.
Their hit singles include their debut “Food for Thought” and two U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number ones with “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Both of these also topped the UK Singles Chart, as did the band’s version of “I Got You Babe”.
The ethnic makeup of the band’s original lineup was diverse, with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage. Lead singer and founding member, Ali Campbell left the band after 30 years in 2008, performing with another founding member, Mickey Virtue, who left UB40 soon after Campbell.
Astro remained with the original band until November 2013, when he left to team up again with Campbell and Virtue in a new version of UB40. In 2014 legal advice was sought by original band members and the group containing Campbell, Virtue and Astro over usage of the band name, UB40 which was being used by both parties.
The band members began as friends who knew each other from various schools across Birmingham. The name “UB40″ was selected in reference to the signing-on document issued to people claiming unemployment benefit from the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) at the time of the band’s formation. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40.
Brian Travers saved up and bought his first saxophone whilst working as an electrical apprentice for NG Bailey, leaving after a few years to become a founding member of UB40 alongside Astro, James Brown, Ali Campbell, Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan and Mickey Virtue. Astro had been working for Duke Alloy’s sound system attending reggae dances in Birmingham. Robin Campbell had been an apprentice toolmaker.
Before some of them could play their instruments, Ali Campbell and Brian Travers travelled around Birmingham promoting the band, putting up UB40 posters. Their sound was created and honed through many long jam sessions at various locations in Birmingham.
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