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. The band has 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. The band’s initial lineup lasted for 30 years from the band’s formation in 1978 until frontman Ali Campbell’s departure from the band in 2008. Since that time, two other founding members (Mickey Virtue and Astro) have also left the band, and the trio of Campbell, Virtue, and Astro have since formed UB40 Reunited.
UB40 were influenced by the many blues parties they attended as teenagers in the multicultural Balsall Heath area of Birmingham. Their love of ska, reggae and early lovers rock inspired such original tracks as “King”, “Madam Medusa”, “Food for Thought”, “Signing Off” and “One in Ten”.
Their early musical style was unique, with a heavy influence of analogue synthesisers, psychedelic rock guitar, saxophone and dub producer techniques which were later perfected by Pablo Falconer.
The Campbell brothers are the sons of the late folk musician, Ian Campbell.
UB40 is one of the most commercially successful reggae acts of all time in terms of record sales (over 70 million), chart positions and touring schedule. During their three-decade long career, they have been performing sell-out shows worldwide and headlining the Reggae Sunsplash music festival in Jamaica, as well as spreading reggae to Russia, South America, etc. They have performed twice at the Night of the Proms, in 2000 and in 2006. In 2006 UB40 was nominated for a Grammy Award(Reggae category) for their album Who You Fighting For.
All three of their UK number one hits and four of their five U.S. top ten hits were cover versions.
UB40 collaborators include: Pato Banton, Madness, Bitty McLean, Chrissie Hynde, Maxi Priest, Robert Palmer, Hunterz, Japanese artist Mikidozan, French artist Nuttea, Lady Saw, Afrika Bambaataa, 808 State.
Listen to some of their songs below