Artist News

Astro departs UB40

By | Published on Monday 25 November 2013


Time for some more turmoil in the UB40 camp following the departures of 2008 and bankruptcies of 2011.

Despite the somewhat acrimonious exiting of frontman Ali Campbell and keyboard player Mickey Virtue in 2008 (Campbell blamed management issues, though his bandmates said their former lead vocalist wanted to put his solo career first), UB40 have continued to record and tour ever since, with Campbell’s brother Duncan taking the former frontman’s place.

The band’s most recent album, ‘Getting Over The Storm’, came out back in September, featuring a number of country music covers as well as some original tracks. A tour to support said album next Spring has just been announced, but on Friday another of the outfit’s founding members and vocalists, Astro, announced he was stepping down, again citing management issues, and also expressing artistic concerns over the most recent long player.

Astro’s longish statement runs thus…

“After a well‚Äźdocumented turbulent few years I feel that it is time to draw a line in the sand and move on. Since Ali and Micky departed, the band has been like a rudderless ship with no clear direction, no action plan, we’ve 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 isn’t in the new album ‘Getting Over The Storm,’ where my contribution has been reduced to a backing vocalist which, as our fans know, is not my role in the group. I’m a frontman, a lead vocalist.

While it maybe true that there is a long relationship with reggae musicians and country music, that doesn’t mean that that’s what I want to play, far from it and it’s definitely not something I wish to be part of, subjecting our fans to what I consider to be substandard.

I 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 I’ve 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 it’s clear that I’ve had enough of being depressed, as I’m sure other members are, but the difference is I’m not prepared to continue to be miserable at home and work. So it’s with a heavy heart I say goodbye. It was (mostly) fun while it lasted”.

For their part, the rest of UB40 insisted that it was Astro who was letting down the band’s fans, by dropping out just after a tour had been announced. They said in a much shorter statement, avoiding any temptation to comment on their former member’s critique of the new record: “UB40 are shocked and saddened by not only Astro’s decision to quit the band, but also his refusal to honour his touring commitments”.

They continued: “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”.