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Old 28th July 2013, 10:01 PM
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Default Sunday Mercury Story

Bankrupt UB40: We are playing for nothing

Bankrupt Birmingham pop supergroup UB40 will not see a penny from their new album when it is released – and are playing sell-out shows to thousands of fans just to pay their debts, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

Although the band are currently out on a hugely successful tour, all the proceeds are going to the administrators. The band’s extensive back catalogue has also been sold, along with lucrative publishing and royalty rights.

Sax player Brian Travers has outlined the sorry plight of the band who were once the biggest ever to come out of Birmingham, at one time eclipsing Black Sabbath and ELO with their worldwide success.

“We’re all still bankrupt. Can’t get out of it,” Travers revealed in an interview with online blogger Robin Valk, the former BRMB Radio DJ and Head of Music who writes the popular Radio To Go music industry blog.

“Is there an end to all this? Don’t know. We’re still touring, but all the money earned is going to the administrators.
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Behind the scenes of the UB40 UK tour in 2009
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“Six weeks ago we played to 30,000 people in Romania. Smashed it. Then 12,000 in Lisbon, and 25,000 in Porto. Last week, ten thousand in Nice, and ten thousand at Wimbledon Rugby club. None of that comes back to us. That’s my problem. And the album has been handed over to the administrator.

“We had to sell the back catalogue, and our publishing as well. So in a way I’m starting again.”

Before it all went wrong, UB40’s global domination included a staggering 120 million album sales – a figure that should have set them up for life.

But, as previously revealed by the Sunday Mercury, band and management wrangles brought the group crashing down. One by one, members were declared bankrupt by the courts.

“It sounds like a great deal of money, 120 million albums,” said Travers. “But we earned 20 per cent of that. If you think of that over 35 years, it’s not all that much. There’s eight of us, plus management, plus agents.
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“We’ve always toured. We toured to sell records rather than the other way around. Everyone was on wages. We looked after everybody.

“We lived well, we had homes round the world. Then there’s your taxes and accountants. There’s a lot I can’t talk about. But we have been royally shafted.”

The 54-year-old sax man recently hit the national headlines when he guested with a UB40 tribute band.

“Out there, there’s something like 24 UB40 tribute bands,” he told blogger Valk. “A lot of them are one guy who sounds a bit like Ali Campbell, with backing tracks. I get asked constantly to guest with them – and I say yes.

“Why would I be ashamed of playing songs I’ve written and worked on, horn figures, brass charts I’ve written? So if I can, I will. So, some months ago I get asked by UB42 – fine musicians – will I come and play a gig? I play the gig, have a great time.

“Then I get a phone call from a national newspaper: ‘Is that right – that you can only get a gig with a cover band? I’m going to write it up anyway’

Ambition

“So my reply was, yes, it’s my ambition to play with every single UB40 tribute band, to say thanks for promoting our music.
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UB40's Robin Campbell's mansion on the market for £1.65 million
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“So they write it up – ‘Bankrupt UB40 star joins UB40 tribute act’ – and the amount of press I’ve got from that, and TV and radio, has been massive.”

The new album, titled Getting Over The Storm and due on September 2, marries reggae with country music.

“A couple of years back, we were thinking about country,” said Travers.

“So I went off and wrote some country tunes and brought them back to the band, who turned them into UB40 tunes.

“Old-style Country and Western always went down a storm in Jamaica back in the day. And in Ireland too. I’m Brummie Irish – so it’s folk music you can dance to. That’s where the fiddles come in!”

Music industry insiders who have heard some of the songs reckon that UB40 are onto a winner, and that the album could go some way to getting the band back on track, even if they earn nothing from it.

Blogger Valk hopes that it will be a big success for his old friends.

“That’s the UB40 gamble,” he says. “Without their back catalogue or their publishing, and facing continuing debt and personal bankruptcies, money has to come from somewhere to plug the deficit.

“Getting Over The Storm is an album that won’t make them money: all the revenue will go to pay off debts. But I have a hunch that it will extend their working life, not just in this country, but especially abroad, in a big way, setting them up for lucrative tours.

“It’s a strange state of affairs for one of the country’s historically biggest and most durable bands to be in.

“But others have been there too: consider Leonard Cohen, whose financial woes forced him back on the road in his 70s and, interestingly, sparked a creative renaissance and introduced him to new audiences.

“Their stories are not quite the same but they’re not all that different either.
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Old 29th July 2013, 04:39 AM
Baggariddim Baggariddim is offline
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I must say that I'm hoping that in the near future, we'll see some great articles on UB40 that don't include the word bankruptcy and other negative stuff. Upon reading the initial article with Brian speaking candidly about UB40's financial situation, I felt really sad for the band and I hope now more than ever that the new album and tours will be successful, bringing them positive raves to counteract the negative business that's been in the press and so on. All this bankruptcy business cannot last forever, but UB40's name and music will.

I hope the press in the UK and around the world will soon write words that reflect UB40's contribution to the popularity of Reggae around the world, their great music and first class live performances. I hope they will appear on major talk/variety show like The Tonight Show, Graham Norton, The New Arsenio Hall Show, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, etc.... I hope the press will point out that no matter the financial disturbances and lineup change, the band is going strong, as the name UB40 is still known on every continent, with crowds flocking to see them play. Maybe the storm is still there, but they are getting over it day by day, song by song, show by show. And the love, inspiration and friendship between current members is still there!

Peace,
Bagga....
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Old 29th July 2013, 10:01 PM
Lambsbread Lambsbread is offline
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overall more positive coverage I would say

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Old 29th July 2013, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggariddim View Post
I must say that I'm hoping that in the near future, we'll see some great articles on UB40 that don't include the word bankruptcy and other negative stuff. Upon reading the initial article with Brian speaking candidly about UB40's financial situation, I felt really sad for the band and I hope now more than ever that the new album and tours will be successful, bringing them positive raves to counteract the negative business that's been in the press and so on. All this bankruptcy business cannot last forever, but UB40's name and music will.

I hope the press in the UK and around the world will soon write words that reflect UB40's contribution to the popularity of Reggae around the world, their great music and first class live performances. I hope they will appear on major talk/variety show like The Tonight Show, Graham Norton, The New Arsenio Hall Show, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, etc.... I hope the press will point out that no matter the financial disturbances and lineup change, the band is going strong, as the name UB40 is still known on every continent, with crowds flocking to see them play. Maybe the storm is still there, but they are getting over it day by day, song by song, show by show. And the love, inspiration and friendship between current members is still there!

Peace,
Bagga....
thanks Bagga , nice one bro....x
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Old 29th July 2013, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggariddim View Post
I must say that I'm hoping that in the near future, we'll see some great articles on UB40 that don't include the word bankruptcy and other negative stuff. Upon reading the initial article with Brian speaking candidly about UB40's financial situation, I felt really sad for the band and I hope now more than ever that the new album and tours will be successful, bringing them positive raves to counteract the negative business that's been in the press and so on. All this bankruptcy business cannot last forever, but UB40's name and music will.

I hope the press in the UK and around the world will soon write words that reflect UB40's contribution to the popularity of Reggae around the world, their great music and first class live performances. I hope they will appear on major talk/variety show like The Tonight Show, Graham Norton, The New Arsenio Hall Show, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, etc.... I hope the press will point out that no matter the financial disturbances and lineup change, the band is going strong, as the name UB40 is still known on every continent, with crowds flocking to see them play. Maybe the storm is still there, but they are getting over it day by day, song by song, show by show. And the love, inspiration and friendship between current members is still there!

Peace,
Bagga....
Great post Bagga.
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Old 1st August 2013, 03:20 PM
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FATHER TED2 FATHER TED2 is offline
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Agree totally with bagga, the guys financial circumstances have been mentioned too often, and I don't understand why, ok I do, it's because they're in the public eye, but they've only gone through what millions of others have, it's an unfortunate case of circumstance which could and may well happen to any of us, all that matters is that they're the same people they always were and the music they give us, that's what matters in the end, just those two things, the close family bond this group of friends have and the music that unites them and us!
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Old 1st August 2013, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by FATHER TED2 View Post
Agree totally with bagga, the guys financial circumstances have been mentioned too often, and I don't understand why, ok I do, it's because they're in the public eye, but they've only gone through what millions of others have, it's an unfortunate case of circumstance which could and may well happen to any of us, all that matters is that they're the same people they always were and the music they give us, that's what matters in the end, just those two things, the close family bond this group of friends have and the music that unites them and us!
Well said Eamonn,agree 100%.

The last thread Kosmos started was about a similar Sunday Mercury article about 2 years ago.Seems to be obsessed with the band's finances.Should mind his own business.
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Old 1st August 2013, 04:48 PM
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nice post Bagga..
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Old 1st August 2013, 05:19 PM
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What Bagga said....word for word Bless his beautifully crafted posts...
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Old 1st August 2013, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rhondda rudie View Post
Well said Eamonn,agree 100%.

The last thread Kosmos started was about a similar Sunday Mercury article about 2 years ago.Seems to be obsessed with the band's finances.Should mind his own business.


yes tom, I remember that.

I responded by saying that there were several innacuracies in that article.

If I remember right, kosmos responded with an address for press complaints. As if there was some fair way to put forward complaints about our lovely press. I thought then that kosmos seemed a little bit TOO close to the gossip mongers that pass for journalism these days.
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