UB40 star Ali Campbell has said being inducted into the Music Walk Of Fame in Camden will be a “full circle” moment as he recalled how the band’s performances in the area helped propel them to fame.
The original reggae band began their career in their home town of Birmingham before performing a number of gigs in London which got them noticed by prominent artists including The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde who invited them to tour with her band.
On Monday, UB40 will be honoured with a stone on the trail based in north London alongside the late Janis Joplin and Harvey Goldsmith.
Campbell, 64, recalled to the PA news agency how “thrilled” the band were to be playing in the Camden-based music venue Dingwalls, which later led to them securing a spot at Rock Garden, where Hynde saw them perform.
“So Camden’s special for us because that was the first place we came to outside of Birmingham and then that led to us playing in the Rock Garden further out from Camden and getting chosen by Chrissie Hynde to go on her tour.
“And we released our first single (King/Food for Thought) and it went to the number four on the tour.
“And then we booked the same tour for ourselves afterwards and never looked back after that.”
He added: “It’s like a big circle coming back to Camden and getting a star on the Walk Of Fame.”
The singer admitted he “went red and felt a little embarrassed” when he first found out the group were receiving the accolade as he noted that as a reggae band, they do not often receive prizes.
Across the week, rock bands The Kinks and Buzzcocks, hip-hop group The Sugarhill Gang, Electric Avenue singer Eddy Grant, folk singer Billy Bragg, R&B group Shalamar, arts promoter Harvey Goldsmith, DJ Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson and founder of Kiss FM Gordon Mac will also be commemorated.
The latest batch of stars will join previous inductees David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, The Who, Madness and Soul II Soul.
Campbell said that it is “very nice” for the group to be remembered alongside the list of “very special” artists.
Formed in the late 1970s, UB40 enjoyed success with their covers of hits including Red Red Wine and (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You.
The original band split in 2008 when founder Campbell quit over a disagreement about management and was later joined by Mickey Virtue and the late Astro to form a tearaway outfit.
Following the death of Astro in November 2021 and the departure of Virtue from the group, Campbell has continued on under the title UB40 featuring Ali Campbell.
Campbell was also initially replaced by his brother Duncan in 2008, who joined the remaining members under the UB40 name, but Duncan later retired from the group due to ill health.
Reflecting on the band’s longevity, Campbell said: “It’s amazing, really. I mean who would have thought that we would still be knocking about? Who’d have thought I’d still be alive and who’d have thought I’d still be in my reggae band, promoting reggae? It’s all very amazing.
“And the fact that reggae has grown so much since we started promoting it. Not because we started promoting it, but since we started, reggae has become so much more influential in all contemporary dance music, basically.
“It’s all produced in a dub fashion and dub comes from reggae so the influence on contemporary music that reggae is having is the strongest it’s ever had so I’m really happy about that.”
The singer will celebrate induction to the Walk Of Fame with a one-off show at Koko Camden on Monday, with the singer also embarking on The Hits Tour hit next year.
Campbell said the tour will be a “party time”, adding: “Our aim is to lift that audience. It’s all about positive vibes and big love and that’s our message.”
Tickets for UB40 featuring Ali Campbell’s The Hits Tour go on sale from MyTicket.co.uk this Friday at 10am.