Two UB40s head to New Zealand

Two UB40s head to New Zealand

Kiwis seeking a classic concert to head to over summer could do worse than reggae superstars UB40.

But ticket-buyers may be confused to find there are two versions of the band coming our way, both using the same name.

UB40 formed in 1978 in Birmingham when singer Ali Campbell got together a group of friends to try to bring reggae music to the UK.

He began promoting the band before some of them had even learned to play their instruments, never dreaming they could make it to the other side of the world.

"We've been coming to New Zealand since 1981," he says. "The first time we came here there was a demonstration about the All Blacks, and we dumped our bags in the hotel and joined the demo."

The Grammy Award-winning group has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

But in 2007, Campbell announced he was leaving the group due to management disputes. His brothers took over the band while he formed a new version of UB40, along with two other band members, leaving fans caught up in a family feud of epic proportions.

"The other UB40 that we call 'the dark side', they've got one of my brothers singing for them who isn't an original member, so they do what they do and we do what we do."

Five founding members remain in the original line-up; however, Campbell says he's the voice of UB40, and that you wouldn't go to see the Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger's brother.

"One's a tribute band and we are the real deal, quite simply."

After Campbell's UB40 wraps up their Red, Red Wine vineyard tour, his brothers' UB40 are here for Ragamuffin in Auckland.

But who finally claims the name will be decided in a British court.

"They've taken us to court because we are using the name UB40, which is absurd but we have to play the game."

As for fans hoping for a family reunion and all of UB40 coming back together again?

"Yes, about 10 minutes after hell freezes over."

So in the meantime, the tour kicks off in Kerikeri tomorrow before heading to vineyards across the country.

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