Alistair Ian “Ali” Campbell (born 15 February 1959) is an English singer, solo artist and songwriter who was the lead singer and a founding member of UB40. As part of UB40, Campbell sold over 70 million records worldwide and toured the globe for 30 years. In 2008 Campbell left UB40 and embarked on a solo career. In 2012, Campbell was announced as one of the three judges on the judging panel of the TV show, New Zealand’s Got Talent. In August 2014 Campbell announced that he had reunited with former UB40 band mates Astro and Mikey to record a new album, Silhouette, released on 6 October 2014.
Campbell was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire. He is the brother of former bandmate Robin Campbell and current UB40 frontman Duncan Campbell, and is a son of the late Scottish folk singer, Ian Campbell. He supports Birmingham City. He is a father of eight children, including two with his current wife Julie.
In October 2007, Campbell released a solo album entitled Running Free. The album entered the UK charts at number 9 and went gold. This was the first top ten entry for Campbell for a new studio album since UB40s Labour of Love 3 album, which was released 10 years prior to Running Free.
On 24 January 2008, it was reported that Campbell was to quit the group after almost 30 years. Campbell, who was a founding member of UB40 – songwriter and lead vocalist for the band — sang on most of the best known hits such as “Red, Red Wine”, finally quit the band in 2008. The band’s last gigs together were in February 2008 in Australia, New Zealand and Uganda.
Campbell then issued a statement on his website and through his solicitors stating that for many years he had been unhappy with the business practices and business managers of UB40 and launched an investigation into the financial handling of the business. This was the reason for his departure.
A few months later, Michael Virtue the keyboard player also left UB40, citing the same reasons as Campbell, and joined Campbell’s legal investigation. Virtue subsequently joined Campbell’s new band, the Dep band.
On 18 October 2010 Ali released his fourth solo album Great British Songs—a collection of British pop and rock hits from the 1960s and 1970s. The album reached 15 on the UK Albums Chart where it remained for three weeks. It also gave Campbell his third top 15 charting album in as many years. Critic David Jefferies of AllMusic said of the album, “Longtime fans will appreciate that Campbell’s voice is as strong as ever, but it deserves a better showcase than this mixed bag”. Campbell’s label Jacaranda Music was number one on the UK independent chart in October 2010 and Great British Songs also entered the iTunes reggae album chart at number one.
In 2012, Campbell was announced as one of the three judges on the judging panel of the TV show, New Zealand’s Got Talent, along with Jason Kerrison and Rachel Hunter. In 2013, Campbell was replaced for the third series by American choreographer Cris Judd.
In August 2014 Campbell announced that he had reunited with former UB40 band mates Astro and Mikey Virtue to record a new album, Silhouette. He said of his brother Duncan’s singing, “I sat back for five years and watched my brother Duncan murdering my songs. We’re saving the legacy”.
As part of UB40, Campbell has sold over 70 million records, and notched up four number No. 1 singles around the world plus over 40 singles in the UK Top 40. (See UB40 discography.)
In the UK, his solo albums Big Love and Running Free both reached the UK Top 10, while Flying High and Great British Songs reached the Top 20.
Whilst with UB40 Campbell received an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement. At the 2007 Grammy Awards, UB40 were nominated for best reggae album of 2006. Mauritius Government award to Ali Campbell for his services to Music and Charity — December 2010