HE’S the legendary voice of eighties reggae band UB40 – one of the most widely travelled bands in Britain.

Ali Campbell is the first to admit they have purposely chosen some of the world’s most exotic locations to play over the years.

But he won’t have to travel far for his next big gig in Bournemouth, as he only lives up the road in Highcliffe.

“In January we fly to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, the Cook Islands and end up in Hawaii for February, then we start the March arena tour in England and that’s when we head to sunny Bournemouth, my local town!”.

Ali has been living in Highcliffe with his wife and four children for 12 years. “I love it here, “ he says. “Around 90 per cent of the population are over 70 which means you can walk around and everything is cool. Some people say hello, but you don’t get any hassle – it’s very different if you try to go shopping at Tesco in Birmingham [where Ali grew up] believe me!”

He adds: “All four of my kids went to Brockenhurst College, I’ve still got two there now. My missus is from Fulham originally, and she misses London, so I think she would like to move back eventually.

“But we have been very happy bringing up the kids here, especially as there’s so much going on everywhere else - it’s a pretty dire situation at the moment. Kids are either indoors playing on computers or they’re in gangs. In fact it’s a pretty dire state of affairs all round with British politics at the moment.

“We’ve been writing lyrics about these sort of issues for 30 years and nothing’s really changed - if anything it’s getting worse.”

(The name UB40 was chosen in reference to a form issued to people claiming unemployment benefits).

But although Ali loves his peaceful home life, he says he does look forward to getting back on the road for a while.

“I can’t believe its going to be our 40th anniversary tour though – it feels absurd.”

Their latest album, A Real Labour Of Love, is their most successful album for 25 years reaching number two in the charts. So what is the secret of the band’s longevity?

“It’s reggae, “ says Ali. “When I started UB40 in 1979 we chose reggae as our genre which was one of the youngest music forms in the world back then, and 40 years later, reggae is more influential than ever. Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are using reggae beats now.”

The Real Labour of Love tour features some of their greatest hits plus songs from the new album.

“We’ve had more hits than any other act in the eighties so we’ve got a big back catalogue to choose from.”

Looking back over his long career in the music business, Ali says he feels very lucky.

“I’ve got a lovely wife and wonderful kids, and I’m still doing what I started doing all those years ago.

“As long as people still want to keep seeing us, we’ll keep turning up!”


As a special offer for Daily Echo readers, we have two pairs of tickets for UB40’s show at the BIC on Monday, March 25 to give away. All you have to do is to send your name and daytime contact number to digital@bournemouthecho.co.uk by 5pm on Thursday, January 31. Please put UB40 Reader Offer in subject headline. All usual Echo rules and regulations apply. Tickets are standard only. No cash alternative.