What is UB40? The Story Behind the Reggae Band Suddenly Making Headlines

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly once got into a bar fight with a man he thought might be the lead singer of UB40. But what exactly is UB40?

According to news reports Monday, Kavanaugh was questioned by the New Haven, Conn., Police Department in September 1985 for an altercation at a bar where a fellow patron accused him of throwing ice at him. (Kavanaugh was not arrested in the incident.)

A number of Kavanaugh's former Yale University classmates have spoken up about the judge's past drinking habits since his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. One of the former classmates, Chad Ludington, recalled a visit to a bar after a UB40 concert.

Ludington says the 1985 fight happened because Kavanaugh and his friends kept staring at a man sitting near them trying to figure out if he was Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40. He wasn't.

For those who may not be familiar with what may have been on playlists (er, mix tapes) of college-aged men in the 1980s, UB40 is an English pop reggae band that formed in 1978. Their hits included covers for the Neil Diamond tune "Red Red Wine" and Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love" (which appears on the soundtrack for the 1993 movie "Sliver"). The group also made an appearance in the 1997 film "Speed 2: Cruise Control."

Early on in its career, the band tried to distance itself from the Two-tone ska that was popular at the time, claiming it strictly played reggae music.

In a 1988 review of a UB40 concert, Times music writer Richard Cromelin noted the band "rarely cut a groove deep enough to release the rich, dank vapors of great reggae, and it lacked the hyperactive verve of its English ska brethren like the Specials and the Beat."

In the same review, Cromelin also questioned why "UB40 [is] so popular with the white-bread, KROQ-bred audience."

Over its long career, the band has notched four Grammy Award nominations in the reggae album category. Among UB40's most recent releases are the 2013 album "Getting Over the Storm" and "A Real Labour of Love," released in March (from another branch of the band, known as "UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue").

This article is written by Tracy Brown from The Los Angeles Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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