Maxi Priest Joins UB40 as Lead Singer
While Keyboardist Michael Virtue Resigns
by M. Peggy Quattro
March 26, 2008 – Reggae’s sweet and soulful singer Maxi Priest has been invited to replace former lead singer Ali Campbell as the new vocalist for Britain’s #1 Reggae export, UB40.
The band has been touring and recording despite Campbell’s January 2008 departure, and recently concluded a successful tour with Priest in Australia in February 2008, and to sold-out crowds in the UK in December 2007.
The association with Maxi Priest, expected to form a more permanent union, has already seen Priest record with UB40 and release a single of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” A source close to the band said, “The recent recording session with Maxi Priest turned out brilliantly and the band is really buzzing about the year ahead.” It should be noted that UB40 and Maxi Priest are the only two British Reggae acts to achieve #1 status on Billboard’s Top 100 chart.
Born of Jamaican descent, Maxi grew up in London listening to Reggae, Pop, Gospel, and R&B. From his first release in 1986,
Maxi was often referred to as the “King of Lovers Rock.” He has enjoyed 20-plus years as singer, songwriter, and performer, and remains as popular today as ever. International fans continue to enjoy his memorable live performances and enthusiastic stage presence.
His impressive career includes the release of more than 30 albums and 14 Top 40 hits, including a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” and the #1 hit “Close to You.” He released the chart-topping “Set the Night to Music” with Roberta Flack in 1991, and most recently enjoyed a major hit with “That Girl” featuring Shaggy.
Maxi has also collaborated with Sly & Robbie, Beres Hammond, Lee Ritenour, Shabba Ranks, and Dennis Brown. The latest release is Maxi’s CD/book combo entitled Refused that contains 15 songs and a collection of photographs, lyrics and the stories behind the writing.
UB40, the Birmingham-based band who still remains true to their roots, have sold more than 70 million records worldwide in their lengthy career. In addition, they have secured no less than 17 UK Top 10 single chart entries, delivered an impressive 54 hit records, and scored an incredible three worldwide # 1 songs with “Red Red Wine,” “I Got You Babe,” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
In a separate UB40 action, on March 20, 2008, it was announced that keyboardist Michael Virtue has left the band. In a statement released through his agent, Virtue said, “I can no longer work with the management team and I am joining Ali Campbell in his investigation into the handling of the band’s business affairs. “I am very upset to be leaving the band who have been like family for the last 30 years, but feel under the circumstances that this was the only option left open to me.” No word yet on who will replace Virtue.