‘Who B40?’ mystery for fans after name dispute

An indignant message from an international music act’s media manager has triggered an astonishing mystery as to whether fans of UB40 will actually be seeing the genuine band when they perform in South Africa in November.

“Who B40?” is now the question everyone will be asking after the man who calls himself UB40’s media manager, Matt Campbell, claimed the band set to tour the country was not the real thing.

For two years a bitter court battle has been brewing in the UK over who actually owns the right to use the name UB40 – a case which is now set to go to trial.

So, who is UB40? Is it three of the band’s founding members – Ali Campbell, Astro (stage name) and Mickey Virtue – who left the group only to reunite as “UB40”, or is it six of the original Birmingham band’s members?

The puzzle surrounding what appears to be a family feud emerged this week after The Herald published an article about the popular reggae band’s Port Elizabeth concert being cancelled.

Matt Campbell requested in an e-mail to The Herald that all online articles referring to UB40 be removed because the “false advertising” was “confusing and infuriating our fans”.

Matt is the son of Ali Campbell’s brother, Robin, who is also one of the founding members of the original 1980s’ band along with a third brother, Duncan.

“The act that is performing at the event you are referring to is, in fact, ex-members of the band who are not entitled to use the name ‘UB40’ to promote their shows,” Matt said.

The South African concerts feature the original band’s co-founding member and lead singer Ali Campbell who went solo in 2008 and later reunited with former UB40 bandmates Astro and Virtue.

The shows are being organised by Big Concerts and presented by local radio stations around the country. Advertising material includes a picture of the three performers with “UB40” splashed across it in huge, bold letters.

“I left my own original band eight years ago but it will be myself, Astro and Mickey Virtue performing old hits and a few new ones as well,” Ali said in an earlier inter view with Weekend Post.

“We will be 11 people on stage so what fans will be seeing is a reunited and reinvented UB40.”

Matt Campbell said yesterday there was “quite a big backlash in Europe” over the name dispute and that the band featuring his uncle, Ali, had for the past two years been touring under the name UB40, without any infringement penalties.

According to Matt, the band touring South Africa in November is not entitled to use the name UB40 and a recent court ruling had indicated the matter would go to trial.

London-based booking agency Contraband International, which has Ali Campbell on its books, said it could not divulge any details.

Big Concerts’ chief executive Attie van Wyk said: “We cannot comment on the alleged dispute or court matter as it has nothing to do with us as the tour promoters of UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue.”

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