Former UB40 member Ali Campbell has said he plans to “tear the roof off” London’s O2 Arena again as he returns to the stage in memory of his late bandmate Astro.
The singer told the PA news agency that Astro, who died in November last year following a short illness, “would have wanted the show to go on” without him.
Campbell will reopen The O2, originally known as the Millennium Dome, on Friday night after Storm Eunice ripped off part of its roof last week.
The 63 -year-old said: “I’m not the most talkative person on stage, I concentrate on singing, and Astro was always the mouthpiece. He would introduce the songs and, of course, I have got to do all that now.
“We are going to miss him terribly. I know he would have wanted the show to go on and that’s what we did.”
Since 2013, the pair had played together as part of a breakaway group after leaving the main band over internal disagreements including about its management.
Speaking about their relationship with the main UB40, he added: “There has been a bit of confusion as the ‘dark side’ as I call them have cancelled a lot of their gigs.
“But on Facebook they have put all their cancellations up and then put mine and Astro’s picture up, which is very confusing for people.
“But we are going ahead with all our shows. There have been no more cancellations. We are the first ones back at The O2 and we are hoping to tear the roof off again.”
Campbell was an original member of the UB40 line-up and his brother Duncan took over as lead singer when Ali quit in 2008 over a disagreement about management.
Astro was a member from the late 1970s until 2013 when he left to team up with Campbell and keyboardist Mickey Virtue as part of tearaway outfit UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro.
Speaking about Astro’s legacy, Campbell said: “We sold 100 million plus CDs.
“The legacy is there already.
“The love that has been shown to him, especially by the Jamaican community, I have been really touched by that…
“That was a revelation, because he was in a multi-racial band a lot of rastas shunned him. But they seemed to have come around to the fact that he was doing the right thing.
“That’s his legacy really. He was in the biggest-selling reggae band in the world next to Bob Marley. You can’t get a better legacy than that really.”
Campbell said he had not received condolences from his former UB40 bandmates.
“It’s all very acrimonious because Astro left them to come back with me,” he said.
“So there was no love lost there.
“And I haven’t heard from any of them really since I left them.”
Later this year, a new album called Unprecedented will be released, which was recorded before Astro’s death and will be a tribute to the singer, trumpeter and percussionist.
The main band recently announced musician Matt Doyle will replace Duncan as their new lead singer after he announced his retirement from music in June after having a seizure at home.
The band formed in 1978 in Birmingham, choosing their name as a reference to a form issued to people claiming unemployment benefits at the time.
The band produced hits including Red Red Wine and Falling In Love With You.
UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell begin the In Memory of Astro tour on Friday February 25 at The O2 in London.
Tickets available at myticket.co.uk.