With just over a week to go until UB40 kicks off their SA tour, we bring you some interesting facts about their opening band, Grassy Spark

Angelina Jolie was reportedly questioned by the FBI for four hours over the Brad Pitt private plane incident

UB40 career landmarks - UB40 career highlights

2006-03-29 11:04

Tthe group make their live debut in February and spend the rest of the year writing songs and honing their live act through gigs in local pubs and clubs.

The band are invited by Chrissie Hynde, of The Pretenders, to support her group on tour. UB40 release their debut single, King/Food For Thought on Graduate, a local independent. It goes on to make No. 4 in the chart. UB40's debut album, Signing Off, reaches No. 2.

The band leave Graduate and set up their own label, Dep International. Their second album, Present Arms, replicates the success of their first, reaching No. 2 in the chart. One In Ten becomes their fourth Top Ten single in a year while Present Arms In Dub is the first dub album to enter the UK Top 40.

Further hits follow in the shape of I Won't Close My Eyes, Love Is All Is Alright and So Here I Am.

Labour Of Love, a homage to the reggae artists that inspired them, gives UB40 their first No. 1 album. It remains in the chart for 18 months. A single from the album, Red Red Wine, gives the band their first UK No. 1 hit in August. Five years later, it tops the US chart.

If It Happens Again gives the band their tenth Top 20 single.

UB40's cover of Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe, a duet with Chrissie Hynde, gives the band their second British No. 1.

UB40 bring reggae to the Russians in October by becoming one of the first Western groups to tour the Soviet Union. Their watershed concert in Moscow is recorded and released the following year as UB40 CCCP.

The Best Of U B40 Volume 1 reaches No. 3 in the British albums chart and stays in the Top 40 for over two years.

The group perform with Chrissie Hynde at the Free Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley in June. Another studio collaboration with the Pretenders singer, Breakfast In Bed, from the UB40 album, lands them
another Top Ten.

Labour Of Love II spawns a Top Ten single in the band's cover of the Chi-Lites classic Homely Girl.

Two further Top Ten singles follow in covers of Kingston Town and Bob Dylan's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight.

One In Ten becomes the first UB40 hit to reach the Top 20 for a second time, thanks to a re-mix by Manchester dance act 808 State.

Promises And Lies becomes the group's biggest album to date, selling an incredible 9 million copies worldwide. The album produces another huge hit in (I Can't Help) Falling In Love, which gives the band their third UK No. 1 and their second chart-topper in America.

UB40 play before record audiences, totalling 250,000, in South Africa.

Until My Dying Day becomes the band's 24th Top 20 single in Britain.

UB40 record their twelfth studio album, Guns In The Ghetto, in Jamaica.

UB40 work with modern reggae stars, including Beenie Man and Lady Saw, on The Dancehall Album, and issue the third volume of Labour Of Love, an album with another Top Ten single in Come Back Darling.

UB40 play before an estimated television audience of one billion in India.

UB40 complete the European Night Of The Proms tour with Chrissie Hynde, Coolio, Alessandro Saffina and an 120 piece orchestra and choir.

The band release a new studio album, Cover Up, and mark the 21st anniversary of Signing Off with a British tour and a celebratory birthday concert at the NEC in Birmingham. The net profits of the show are donated to the United Nations AIDS Awareness Campaign.

The Fathers Of Reggae album features guests, including Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe, Mighty Diamonds and John Holt, singing the songs of UB40. Following their visits to the USSR and South Africa, UB40 play another
landmark gig, this time at a peace festival in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.

UB40 receive an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement and secure a Top Ten album with The Platinum Collection, a triple box set comprising the whole Labour Of Love series. Their 22nd album, Homegrown, includes Swing Low, the England rugby team's official song for their victorious 2003 World Cup campaign in Australia. The song becomes the group's 49th UK chart single. The only bands to have notched more hits are The Shadows, Status Quo and Queen.

The band tour Homegrown around the world and complete a critically-acclaimed live DVD, Homegrown In Holland. They return to Birmingham and start work on a new album, cutting it in the traditional manner as an eight-piece band playing together in the studio.

On the 25th anniversary of their debut single and album, UB40 unveil their 23rd album, Who You Fighting For. They also unite with Eric Clapton to play their first ever show at the Royal Albert Hall, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. As they prepare for more live dates, they remain the same gang of eight childhood mates who started the group 27 years previously.

- Supplied by EMI

From the dole queue to lasting international pop megastardom...

In 1978
A gang of eight boyhood friends form a band, UB40, in the Moseley area of Birmingham, initially playing covers of songs by their favourite reggae stars. UB40 refers to the name of the Dole "sign on" form.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Recent News

In the seventh episode of the Channel24 Coffee Break series, Just Jinjer frontman Ard Matthews stopped by Channel24 to jam a few songs and talk to us about his new album and band as well as overcoming his National Anthem upset. Read More »

Are they VanFokkingTasties?

2012-05-03 09:27

The lads talk life, love...and their new album. Read More »

inside channel 24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.