24 UB40 Facts

2007-06-14 15:50

UB40 will return to SA for three concerts in July this year. Catch them in Durban on the 4th at the International Convention Centre, in Johannesburg on the 6th at The Coca-Cola Dome and in Cape Town on the 9th and the 10th of July at Ratanga Junction. Want to know more?

How's this?
- A gallery of the SA flag that tours with UB40. It's finally going to be coming home!
- Read about the SA flag's world tour

24 Facts

1:: UB40, the popular British reggae/dub band, formed in 1978 in the working class neighbourhoods of Birmingham.

2:: Their name 'UB40' stands for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40. The band named themselves after the paper form issued by the UK government's Department of Employment for claiming the dole.

3:: All the band members are from Birmingham and were all friends who knew each other from various schools and colleges in the area.

4:: The band started advertising themselves before they even owned any instruments. Posters of UB40 were put up all over Birmingham by two of the founding members, Ali Campbell and Brian Travers.

5:: They bought their first instruments with compensation money Ali Campbell, later the lead singer, received after he was involved in a bar fight on his 17th birthday celebration.

6:: In the multicultural neighbourhoods of Birmingham, Blues parties and ska and reggae music influenced their musical style.

7:: Ali and Robin Campbell’s father is Ian Campbell, a popular folk musician.

8:: Their first gig was at a friend’s birthday party in 1979 at The Hare & Hounds Pub in Kings Heath.

9:: Their big break came when Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders invited them to be their support act on a national tour.

10:: UB40's first single, a double coupling of "King", a song for Martin Luther King and "Food for Thought", a song about third-world poverty, was the first record to reach the UK top ten without the backing of a major record label.

11:: In 1980 UB40 formed their own record company, DEP International.

12:: UB40 named their first album Signing Off because they were ‘signing off from the dole’ in other words, getting a job. The album even had a reproduction of the unemployment benefit card on the cover with the words, "Signing Off" stamped on it.

13:: UB40 released their second album, Present Arms only nine months after the first one. And four months after that they released a dub version of Present Arms.

14:: Much of this first album was recorded outside in a garden. Their sound back then was heavily influenced by synthesizers, psychedelic guitars and saxophones. Their music also often tackled social issues such as racism and unemployment.

15:: Signing Off reached No. 2 on the UK Album Charts and spent 72 weeks in total on the chart. It is today a Platinum album. 16:: The band only became popular in America after they released an album of cover songs called, Labour of Love in 1983. Labour of Love was their first direct tribute to the musicians who had inspired them. The album contained the popular song, “Red Red Wine”, a Neil Diamond cover, which became their first American number one hit.

17:: In fact, most of UB40’s popularity to date has come from their cover versions of classic songs.

18:: "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You", a cover of an Elvis Presley ballad is their most successful single release. The song was from the album "Promises and Lies" which sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

19:: On their album UB40 Present The Dancehall Album, they collaborate with leading Jamaican dancehall artists, including Beenie Man and Lady Saw. They hoped that this album would reaffirm their commitment to reggae music.

20:: According to Wikipedia, 1960s ska and early lovers rock songs that would have otherwise been forgotten in the public eye, inspired many of UB40’s recordings. Their new injection of life into many old Jamaican hits has resulted in many musicians' and producers' renewed popularity and income.

21:: UB40 has performed at the BBC Proms, normally an event associated only with classical music.

22:: They released a cover version of the song "Swing Low" with the multi-cultural choir United Colours of Sound, which became the official anthem for the 2003 English Rugby Team.

23:: After an extended sabbatical, the band have recently begun recording in their new Jamaican studio, releasing material that seeks to showcase the diversity of reggae music.

24:: UB40 have collaborated with a variety of musicians, such as Pato Banton, 808 State, Madness, Robert Palmer, Chrissie Hynde and Afrika Bamaataa.

25:: (bonus fact!) To date UB40 have released 28 full albums.

* Book your ticket through Computicket now

- Annel Malan

UB40 is back for another South African tour. Find out when and check out these interesting facts.

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