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UB40’s Ali Campbell Talks Brett Kavanaugh Bar Brawl

“You don’t expect a rightwing Republican to follow a leftwing reggae socialist band from Birmingham,” singer says

Ali Campbell of UB40, 2005

UB40 frontman Ali Campbell discussed his band's surprise role in the latest controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Leon Schadeberg/Shutterstock

UB40 singer Ali Campbell spoke with The Guardian about finding himself and his band roped into the latest controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

On Monday, The New York Times uncovered a police report that detailed Kavanaugh’s involvement in a 1985 bar fight when he was a junior at Yale University. The altercation not only took place after a UB40 concert, but broke out because Kavanaugh and his friends were trying to figure out whether another man at the bar was Campbell. When the man – who was not Campbell – told them to stop staring at him, Kavanaugh reportedly threw ice at him.

“I first found out that my name was being dragged into the biggest news story of the year when I woke up and my wife came in and said: ‘What’s all this about you and Brett Kavanaugh?,'” Campbell told The Guardian. “I said: ‘I have absolutely no idea.’ Then people started ringing up asking for a comment on this supposed ruckus in a bar between him and someone who looked like me in 1985. My obvious comment is: ‘It wasn’t me!'”

While Campbell insisted that he would’ve remembered someone throwing ice at him, he also noted that he rarely went out after UB40’s concerts. “We did more than 1,000 shows in the US in the Eighties,” he said. “They blur into one another, but the last thing I would do is go to the bar over the road after a show – I jump straight into a car and go back to the hotel.”

Campbell noted that he’d been following the tumultuous Kavanaugh confirmation process during UB40’s recent North American tour, and spoke on the sexual assault allegations that have been leveled against the nominee. “American politics seems particularly unsavoury at the moment: it’s at an all-time low,” he said. “I don’t know the bloke, so I don’t know whether he’s innocent or guilty, but I wouldn’t support anyone assaulting women.”

Campbell closed with a sly remark about Kavanaugh’s UB40 fandom. While he insisted that the band welcomes everyone to their shows – “so long as they leave their politics at the door” – he remarked, “It is a big surprise to find out that Kavanaugh used to come to see us in his Yale days. You don’t expect a rightwing Republican to follow a leftwing reggae socialist band from Birmingham. But we used to sing about really heavy stuff and wrap it up in frothy, happy tunes, so a lot of people got into us who had no idea what we were singing about. Maybe he just loves reggae… and didn’t listen to our lyrics.”

In This Article: Brett Kavanaugh, UB40

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