Ali Campbell

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Ali Campbell
Campbell performing in 2009.
Campbell performing in 2009.
Background information
Birth nameAlistair Ian Campbell
Born (1959-02-15) 15 February 1959 (age 63)
Birmingham, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1977–present
LabelsCooking Vinyl

Alistair Ian Campbell (born 15 February 1959) is an English singer and songwriter who was the lead singer and a member of the British reggae band UB40. As part of UB40, Campbell sold over 70 million records worldwide and toured the globe for 30 years. In 2008, Campbell left UB40 due to a dispute with band management and embarked on a solo career. In 2012, Campbell was announced as one of the three judges on the judging panel of the TV show, New Zealand's Got Talent. In August 2014, Campbell announced that he had reunited with former UB40 band mates Astro and Mickey to record a new album, Silhouette, released on 6 October 2014.[1]

Early life[edit]

Alistair Ian Campbell was born in Birmingham, England. He is the brother of former bandmate Robin Campbell and former UB40 frontman Duncan Campbell, and is a son of the late Scottish folk singer Ian Campbell.[2]

Departure from UB40[edit]

In October 2007, Campbell released a solo album titled Running Free. It entered the UK charts at number 9 and went gold. This was the first top ten entry for Campbell for a new studio album since UB40s Labour of Love 3 album, which was released 10 years prior to Running Free.

On 24 January 2008, it was reported that Campbell was to quit the group after almost 30 years.[3] Campbell, who was a founding member of UB40, songwriter and lead vocalist, finally quit the band in 2008. Their last gigs together were in February 2008 in Australia, New Zealand and Uganda.[3]

Campbell then issued a statement on his website and through his solicitors stating that for many years he had been unhappy with the business practices and business managers of UB40 and launched an investigation into the financial handling of the business. This was the reason for his departure.

A few months later, Michael Virtue the keyboard player also left UB40, citing the same reasons as Campbell, and joined Campbell's legal investigation. Virtue subsequently joined Campbell's new band, the Dep band.

Solo career[edit]

In the UK, his solo albums Big Love and Running Free both reached the UK Top 10, while Flying High and Great British Songs reached the Top 20.[citation needed] Campbell scored a number 1 hit in 1994 as featured artist, along with brother Robin, on Pato Banton's cover of The Equals' "Baby Come Back".[citation needed]

On 18 October 2010 Ali released his fourth solo album Great British Songs—a collection of British pop and rock hits from the 1960s and 1970s. The album reached 15 on the UK Albums Chart where it remained for three weeks. It also gave Campbell his third top 15 charting album in as many years.[4] Critic David Jefferies of AllMusic said of the album, "Longtime fans will appreciate that Campbell’s voice is as strong as ever, but it deserves a better showcase than this mixed bag".[5] Campbell's label Jacaranda Music was number one on the UK independent chart in October 2010 and Great British Songs also entered the iTunes reggae album chart at number one.[6]

In 2012, Campbell was announced as one of the three judges on the judging panel of the TV show, New Zealand's Got Talent, along with Jason Kerrison and Rachel Hunter. In 2013, Campbell was replaced for the third series by American choreographer Cris Judd.[7]

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro[edit]

In August 2014, Campbell announced that he had reunited with former UB40 band mates Astro and Mickey Virtue to record a new album, Silhouette.[1] He said of his brother Duncan's singing, "I sat back for five years and watched my brother Duncan murdering my songs. We're saving the legacy".[8] They initially toured under the name 'UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey', leading to legal action brought by the other UB40.[9][10] Their first release was The Hits of UB40 Live in 2015. In 2016, their Unplugged album reached number 17 on the UK Albums Chart.[11] A Real Labour of Love was released in March 2018, an album much in the vein of UB40's Labour of Love series.[12] It reached number two on the UK Albums Chart, and entered the Billboard Reggae Albums chart at number one.[11][13] Virtue departed the band in late 2018, following which the band has operated under the name 'UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro'.[14] In July 2021, vocalist Matt Hoy quit the band,[15][16] while on 6 November 2021, the group's social media announced that Astro had died after a short illness.[17] In 2022, the first single from the band's final album wih Astro, "Sufferer" was released, which was joined in the countdown as shown on The Heritage Chart Show[18] by Matt Hoy's solo single "We Are One", a fact which was picked up by presenter Mike Read on the programme broadcast on Talking Pictures TV on 10 April 2022.[19][20][21][22] On 17 June 2022, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro will release the album Unprecedented via UMC, with Campbell fullfilling his UB40 tour dates in the run-up to the album's release, with the tour now billed as being 'in memory of Astro'.[23][24]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Whilst with UB40, Campbell received an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement. At the 2007 Grammy Awards, UB40 were nominated for best reggae album of 2006. Mauritius Government award to Ali Campbell for his services to Music and Charity – December 2010

Personal life[edit]

Campbell is the father of eight children, including two with his current wife, Julie.[2]


Solo albums[edit]

  • Big Love (1995) UK No. 6[4]
  • Running Free (2007) UK No. 9[4]
  • Flying High (2009) UK No. 13[4]
  • Great British Songs (2010) UK No. 15[4]

Solo singles[edit]

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell[edit]

  • Silhouette (as Ali Campbell - The Legendary Voice Of UB40 - Reunited With Astro & Mickey) Cooking Vinyl, 2014 (UK No. 18) [27]
  • The Hits of UB40 Live (as UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey) Estupendo, 2015
  • Unplugged + Greatest Hits[28][29] (as UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey, with disc 2 feauring original UB40 recordings), UMC, 2016 (UK No. 17)
  • A Real Labour of Love (as UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey) UMC, 2018 (UK No. 2)[30]
  • Unprecedented (as UB40 featuring Ali and Astro) UMC, 2022[31]


  1. ^ a b "Ali Campbell – The Legendary Voice Of UB40 Reunited with Astro & Mickey release new album "Silhouette" ahead of Australian tour in December". Cooking Vinyl. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Ali Campbell – Marriage – Love – Celebrity – Editor's picks". New Zealand Woman's Weekly. New Zealand: Bauer Media Group. Archived from the original on 31 October 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b "UB40 singer Campbell quits group". BBC News. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Ali Campbell". Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Ali Campbell Great British songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Ali Campbell interview by Pete Lewis, Blues & Soul October 2010". Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  7. ^ "The judging panel of New Zealand's Got Talent announced, TVNZ production". TVNZ Ondemand. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Rival band remains true to its roots in reggae". Yorkshire Post. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  9. ^ "UB40 and Ali Campbell's band will settle naming rights in court". 21 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Ali Campbell sued by own brothers as UB40 legal case reaches High Court". 15 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b "UB40 FT ALI/ASTRO/MICKEY", Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 March 2018
  12. ^ Campbell, Howard (2018) "Ali Campbell, friends put twist on classics", Jamaica Observer, 22 January 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2018
  13. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2018) "UB40 spin-off tops reggae chart", Jamaica Observer, 13 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018
  14. ^ "What UB40 star Ali Campbell said about Mickey Virtue leaving the band". 21 December 2018.
  15. ^ "UB40 vocalist Matt Hoy forced to quit band over Covid vaccine concerns". 2 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Matt Hoy – Making Music w/UB40 and New Album Touch".
  17. ^ Lee, Dulcie (6 November 2021). "UB40 founding member Astro dies after short illness". BBC. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  18. ^ "Week 87 20 March 2022".
  19. ^ "Video".
  20. ^ "The Heritage Chart Show with Mike Read (TV Series)".
  21. ^ "New Heritage Chart TV show airs". 27 January 2022.
  22. ^ "Issue of the day: The Heritage Chart taps into nostalgia".
  23. ^ "UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell & Astro drop new song Sufferer". 18 February 2022.
  24. ^ "UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell & Astro Unveil New Track 'Sufferer' Ahead of Upcoming Album". 22 February 2022.
  25. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – 17 Sep 1995". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 5 July 2017. N.B. The HP column displays the highest peak reached.
  26. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 90. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  27. ^ "ALI CAMPBELL | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Official Charts.
  28. ^ "UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue Go Acoustic". 19 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Exclusive: Ali Campbell Talks to uDiscover". 20 December 2016.
  30. ^ "UB40 FT ALI/ASTRO/MICKEY | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Official Charts.
  31. ^ "UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell & Astro Announce New Album 'Unprecedented'". 18 February 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]