Friday, November 22, 2013
UB40 Vocalist Astro Announces Split From Current Line-Up Ahead Of U.K. Tour
The trials and tribulations of UB40 continue. Astro, the iconic frontman, toaster and sometime trumpet player released a statement today through a PR agency announcing his departure from the troubled band.
Astro (whose real name is Terence Wilson) broke the news to his bandmates earlier today, taking them by surprise. The group's best-known singer Ali Campbell left in 2008 along with keyboard player Mickey Virtue. Four of the remaining members including Astro were declared bankrupt two years ago. Astro alluded to the band's most recent album "Getting Over The Storm" as one of the deciding factors in his decision. The album which features reggae versions of well known country songs, has divided the band's fans. Listen to an interview Astro did with a local Birmingham radio station yesterday when he broke the news publicly. Apparently he let his bandmates know fifteen minutes before this interview:
Read the full statement below:
“After a well-documented turbulent few years I feel that it is time to draw a line in the sand and move on. Since Ali and Micky departed, the band has been like a rudderless ship with no clear direction, no action plan, we’ve merely muddled our way through on a wing and a prayer. There has been a serious lack of communication between the band and management.
“I want to play what our fans, who have been very vocal, want to hear, which is vibrant, fresh reggae music with passion. My heart just isn’t in the new album ‘Getting Over The Storm,’ where my contribution has been reduced to a backing vocalist which, as our fans know, is not my role in the group. I’m a front man, a lead vocalist.
“While it maybe true that there is a long relationship with reggae musicians and country music, that doesn’t mean that that’s what I want to play, far from it and it’s definitely not something I wish to be part of, subjecting our fans to what I consider to be substandard.
“I have been loyal to my brothers to the detriment of my own family. Now it is time for me to do the right thing by them and myself and bow out while I still have a chance to salvage something of my career.
“I may have lost all that I’ve worked for, for the past 30+ years but I cannot bear to see what we are offering to our loyal fans who have stood by us through thick and thin. I believe they deserve better than this and I am sorry but I cannot and will not lose my integrity as a respected reggae musician. Therefore I have no alternative but to part company with the band.
“I know it may seem sudden to all who know me but my mind is made up and will not change. I think it’s clear that I’ve had enough of being depressed, as I’m sure other members are, but the difference is I’m not prepared to continue to be miserable at home and work. So it’s with a heavy heart I say goodbye. It was (mostly) fun while it lasted.”
UB40 responded to the latest departure by saying Astro had let down fans by walking out on his upcoming touring commitments. In a statement the group said: "UB40 are shocked and saddened by not only Astro's decision to quit the band, but also his refusal to honour his touring commitments. We have several tours booked in the coming months, including our biggest UK tour for three years, and he has not only let us down but also our fans. While we are naturally disappointed that Astro will not be with us at these shows, UB40 will continue and are looking forward to a positive 2014."
Rumors that Astro will be joining Ali Campbell and Mickey Virtue in Ali's band have already started with Campbell stating "Interesting" on his Facebook page with regard to the announcement.
The band's drummer Jim Brown has responded to Astro's departure with a number of posts on the UB40 fan forum, stating:
"Astro tried to hold the band to ransom. He told us we had to pay him more, or he would walk. Just like Ali did. And the bands response was the same. We don't respond we'll to being blackmailed. It's a shame, but what can we do ? No band member is more important than another. Problem is, when going gets tough, you can't predict how people will react. Some get stronger, others fall apart. People show their true selves when they are under stress. I'm very proud that the band are strong enough to respond the way they did to astro's blackmail. Trying to hold us to ransom is a mistake, as Ali and astro have discovered. In UB40 everyone is equal. This talk of "management" is just a red herring. After Ali left we changed management, but the band still makes all the decisions. It has nothing to do with managers, or musical direction. It's all about money. Trying to blackmail the band in to paying him more than anyone else was a mistake on astro's part. We regret that this has happened, but nothing has really changed. We've toured without astro several times in the past and the shows were still great. Life goes on."
Here's a reminder of the good old days. This song changed my life and remains a personal favorite and features an extended toast from Astro. Long live UB40...