Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

Welcome to B&S

BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS...

News Item

Astro Quits UB40 For New Turf With Ali

Astro Pic
Astro Pic UB40 CD Getting Over The Strom

Astro, one of the founder members of superstar reggae band UB40 quit the band live on air during a radio interview in Birmingham â issuing a statement criticising the band, their management and the latest album via a PR company, embargoed for release just after his dramatic BBC revelation.

He has now been announced as the newest member of former lead singer Ali Campbellâs band, which also features original keyboard man Mickey Virtue. The rest of the original line-up are âshocked and saddenedâ at Astroâs sudden departure and his refusal to honour their existing touring commitments. He was a featured vocalist, trumpeter and rapper in the band.

In the latest of a series of set backs for the guys who have sold well over 100 million records in their 35-year history, their resilience is as strong as ever and it is very much business as usual as they prepare for a major UK tour early next year. The band is currently promoting their latest hit album âGetting Over The Stormâ which dented the UK charts in the Top 30 after its release in September this year. The band just packed out Liverpool Cathedral for a sold out concert and are about to travel to Europe for shows. Astro, Mickey and Ali will play a show at Londonâs Indigo 02 on 6th December as their first outing with Astro in the line-up.
UB40âs response to Astroâs carefully orchestrated exit announcement was brief and mainly focused on their future as the global brand that is UB40.

âUB40 are shocked and saddened by not only Astroâs decision to quit the band, but also his refusal to honour his touring commitments. We have several tours booked in the coming months, including our biggest UK tour for three years, and he has not only let us down but also our fans. While we are naturally disappointed that Astro will not be with us at these shows, UB40 will continue and are looking forward to a positive 2014.â

Astro, whose real name is Terence Oswald, says he is looking forward to working with the bandâs former lead singer Ali Campbell, who left the original band in February 2008. âItâs going to be great working with Ali again after all this time. We started on a mission to promote reggae music and that mission is still ongoing. Onwards and upwards!â Ali Campbell added: âWe originally formed UB40 to promote reggae. It was never about promoting individual band members â itâs about the music and the fans. Nothing else matters. Welcome home Astro!â

Astro said: âI informed management and our agent several weeks ago that I would not perform until various outstanding issues were cleared up. I also advised them not to use my name or image in any tour publicity so as not to mislead fans. I now felt I needed to inform the fans myself, so they were fully aware and would not go to a concert in the hope of seeing me.â Speaking about his own departure six years ago, Campbell said: âIt was a very acrimonious split and it remains so. I consider the whole band as my brothers â including my two real brothers who are in the current line up â and for six years we havenât said a word to each other. Itâs very sad to see what theyâve done to the legacy of UB40. Itâs not the original line-up and they havenât been very transparent about that at all.â

Astroâs statement to announce his departure from the band is here, in full:

âAfter a well-documented turbulent few years, I feel that it is time to draw a line in the sand and move on. Since Ali and Mickey departed, the band has been like a rudderless ship with no clear direction, no action plan, weâve merely muddled our way through on a wing and a prayer. There has been a serious lack of communication between the band and management. I want to play what our fans, who have been very vocal, want to hear, which is vibrant, fresh reggae music with passion. My heart just isnât in the new album âGetting Over The Storm,â where my contribution has been reduced to a backing vocalist which, as our fans
know, is not my role in the group. Iâm a front man, a lead vocalist. While it may be true that there is a long relationship with reggae musicians and country music, that doesnât mean that thatâs what I want to play, far from it and itâs definitely not something I wish to be part of, subjecting our fans to what I consider to be
substandard.â

âI have been loyal to my brothers to the detriment of my own family. Now it is time for me to do the right thing by them and myself and bow out while I still have a chance to salvage something of my career. I may have lost all that Iâve worked for, for the past 30+ years but I cannot bear to see what we are offering to our loyal fans who have stood by us through thick and thin. I believe they deserve better than this and I am sorry but I cannot and will not lose my
integrity as a respected reggae musician. Therefore I have no alternative but to part company with the band. I know it may seem sudden to all who know me but my mind is made up and will not
change. I think itâs clear that Iâve had enough of being depressed, as Iâm sure other members are, but the difference is Iâm not prepared to continue to be miserable at home and work. So itâs with a heavy heart I say goodbye. It was (mostly) fun while it lasted.â

Astroâs decision to leave and to join Ali, comes after the bandâs well publicised financial woes caused most of them to be declared bankrupt. They had to sell off their back catalogue and publishing rights to go towards clearing a massive debut to the Inland Revenue and financial institutions for loans. There has been a bitter war of words in the press between Ali and the band, since he left almost six years ago, and he has not spoken to any of them since, including his brothers Robin and Duncan (the latter replaced him as lead singer.) But despite the recent stormy past, UB40 will play their biggest UK tour for over three years in Spring 2014. Starting at the O2 ABC in Glasgow on 31st March, UB40 will play fourteen shows across the UK, with a hometown gig on the final night of the tour at The Institute in Birmingham on 18th April.

The announcement of the tour follows the success of the bandâs latest album âGetting Over The Stormâ, which was awarded BBC Radio 2âs âAlbum Of The Weekâ accolade and received 5-star reviews from the UKâs music press. Itâs the usual UB40 sound and quality, covering a few country songs in a reggae vibe and some originals written by sax man Brian Travers and given the UB40 treatment by the band. Naming themselves after the unemployment benefit form, UB40 formed in 1978, before releasing their debut album âSigning Offâ in August 1980. It was the start of a career that has since seen the band have over forty UK Top 40 hit singles and achieve sales of over 100 million records, making UB40 one of the most successful British groups of all-time.

UB40âs TOUR DATES:

31st March â Glasgow, O2 ABC
http://www.o2abcglasgow.co.uk/
0844 477 2000 (24 Hr)
300 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JA

1st April â Gateshead, The Sage
http://www.sagegateshead.com/
0191 443 4661
St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2JR

3rd April â Leeds, O2 Academy
http://www.o2academyleeds.co.uk/
0844 477 2000 (24 Hr)
55 Cookridge St, Leeds, LS2 3AW

4th April â Nottingham, The Rock City
http://www.rock-city.co.uk/
0845 413 4444
8 Talbot Street, Nottingham, NG1 5GG

5th April â Ipswich, The Regent
https://apps.ipswich.gov.uk/PEO/
01473 433100
3 St Helen's Street, Ipswich, IP4 1HE

7th April - Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall
http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/leas-cliff-hall/
0844 871 7627
The Leas, Folkestone, CT20 2DZ

8th April - Portsmouth, Pyramids
http://pyramids.co.uk/
02392 799977
Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, PO5 3ST

10th April - Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
https://www.southendtheatres.org.uk
01702 351135
Station Rd, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7RA

11th April - St Albans, Alban Arena
http://www.alban-arena.co.uk/
01727 844488
Civic Centre, St Albans, AL1 3LD

12th April - Manchester, Academy
http://www.manchesteracademy.net/
0161 275 4278
Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9PL

14th April - Cambridge, Corn Exchange
http://www.cornex.co.uk/
01223 357851
Parsons Court, 2 Wheeler St, Cambridge, CB2 3QB

15th April - London - O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
http://www.o2shepherdsbushempire.co.uk/
0844 477 2000 (24 Hr)
Shepherd's Bush Green, London, W12 8TT

18th April - Birmingham, Institute
http://mamacolive.com/theinstitute/
0844 844 0444
78 Digbeth, Birmingham B5 6DY

** Astro photo copyright: Simon Redley **
Words SIMON REDLEY

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter