1978 – present (39 years)
Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom
A reggae band formed 1978 in Birmingham, UK. The music grasps from roots reggae and dub to lovers rock and pop. It is the second most commercial successful reggae band with +70 million sold albums. Many of their hits have been stylishly covers of early reggae and rocksteady hits from Jamaica. After success in UK, UB40's won USA with Labour of Love (1983), their first album of covers. UB40 was 1986 the first Western band to play behind the Iron Curtain, live in Moscow, Soviet Union. UB40 is known for hits as 'Food For Thought', (1980) 'Red Red Wine' (1983), 'Please Don't Make Me Cry' (1983), 'I Got You Babe' (1985) with frontman Ali Campbell in duet with Chrissie Hynde just like in 'Breakfast in Bed' (1988). Their most successful worldwide single release is their reggae/pop version of 'I Can't Help) Falling in Love With You' (1993).
UB40 are a British dub / reggae pop music band formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England.
The band is one of the most culturally diverse dub Ska bands with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage. The band is named from the paper form issued by the UK government's Department of Health and Social Security at the time of the band's formation for claiming unemployment benefit (UB40 = Unemployment Benefit, Form 40).
UB40 were influenced by the many Blues Parties they attended as teenagers in the multiracial Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, their love of ska and reggae inspired such original tracks as King, Madam Medusa, Food for Thought, Signing Off and One in Ten.
Their early music style was unique, with a heavy influence of analogue synthesizers, psychedelic rock guitar, saxophone and dub producer techniques which were later perfected by the late Pablo Falconer.
Ali and Robin Campbell have a musical heritage, being sons of Ian Campbell, a folk musician.
The band purchased its first instruments with compensation money Ali Campbell received after a bar fight. They have had a number of hits, most commercially and to amusement of the band, "Red Red Wine", a cover version of a Neil Diamond song (in an arrangement similar to that of Tony Tribe's version). Their most successful single release is the cover of the Elvis Presley ballad Can't Help Falling In Love which was intended to be the main title to the 1992 Sharon Stone movie Sliver and was a Number One hit across Europe and in the U.S.
Many of UB40's recordings were inspired by 1960s ska and early lovers rock songs that would have otherwise been forgotten in the public eye. Their new injection of life into so many old Jamaican hits has resulted in many musicians' and producers' renewed popularity and income.
UB40's early music often tackled social issues such as racism and unemployment.
Other artists that UB40 have collaborated with include: Pato Banton, Madness, Bitty McLean, Chrissie Hynde, Robert Palmer, Hunterz, Japanese artist Mikidozan, French artist Nuttea, Lady Saw and Afrika Bambaataa.
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