Four decades of producing great music come to a crescendo on the 2019 Jazz Stanbic Festival stage as headline act UB40 marks their 40th anniversary as a band. The UK reggae and pop band, UB40, was formed in December 1978 by friends from various schools across Birmingham in England.
The band was originally made up of eight musicians namely; Ali Campbell the lead vocalist, Jimmy Brown drummer and Earl Falconer bassist. These three were later, joined by Robin Campbell, percussionists Yomi Babayemi, Norman Hassan, saxophonist Brian Travers and keyboardist Jimmy Lynn. The name UB40 was derived from a term used by people who claimed unemployment benefits from the UK government’s Department of Employment. The name UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit form 40.
The band has had more than 50 singles in the UK Single Chart since their line-up, and has also achieved considerable international success. The band consolidated its street credibility with political topics appealing to dissatisfied youth, and got a boost from fans of the waning 2-Tone ska revival movement.
UB40 got their big break when Chrissie Hynde spotted them performing and asked them to join as a support act to the band, The Pretenders on an upcoming tour. The band released their first single “King”/”Food for Thought” was released on Graduate Records, a local independent label run by David Virr. The song reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.
After great success in the UK, UB40’s popularity spread and got established in the US when they released ‘Labour of Love,’ an album of cover songs, in 1983. The album was number one on the UK Albums Chart and number eight on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album stayed on the charts for over 100 weeks. Their most successful worldwide single release is their reggae/pop version ‘Falling in love with you’ which was the title to the Sharon Stone movie ‘Silver.’
UB40 is one of the most commercially successful reggae acts of all time with over 70 million copies sold. From March 28 to February 2 at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra, patrons of the Stanbic Jazz Festival will witness the climax of 40-year old musical journey that has seen UB40 become arguably the most successful reggae and pop band.