A British high court has ruled that there is reason to allow a lawsuit brought by the original band UB40 against the splinter version of UB40 led by former lead singer Ali Campbell to move to trial. At stake is who can use the band name.
Between 1980 and 2008, UB40 scored a long string of international hits including Red Red Wine (1983 / #1 U.S. / #1 U.K.), I Got You Babe (with Chrissie Hynde) (1985 / #28 U.S. / #1 U.K.), Here I Am (Come and Take Me) (1990 / #7 U.S. / #46 U.K.), The Way You Do the Things You Do (1990 / #6 U.S. / #49 U.K.) and I Can’t Help (Falling in Love With You) (1993 / #1 U.S. / #1 U.K.). All of their major hits were remakes with the bands reggae touch added.
First formed in Birmingham, the original recording lineup of the group included brothers Ali and Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan, Brian Travers, Jimmy Brown, Mickey Virtue and Astro, all of which stayed with the band until 2008. In January of that year, it was announced that Ali Campbell was leaving the band to concentrated on solo projects although Ali later said it was due to business disputes. Mickey Virtue quit shortly after.
Even though Maxi Priest was originally said to be the new lead singer, the band eventually went with another Campbell brother, Duncan. Astro played with the band until November 2013 when he left over the direction of the group. A week later, he took the stage with Ali Campbell and Virtue and, by January, the three were in the studio recording as UB40.
In September 2014, the original UB40 sued the new version saying that they were illegally using the UB40 name. That suit has made its way through the courts to today and the new ruling. Ali Campbell, Virtue and Astro tried to argue that it was their version of the band that the public associated with the name but the judge disagreed, saying that the original group had a “realistically arguable basis” for their suit.
Ali, Virtue and Astro issued a joint statement saying “We are disappointed that the court has not been prepared to dismiss the claim without a full trial. We will continue to vigorously defend the claim made against us.”
The splinter group is currently touring as UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue.
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