MI5 spies bugged UB40 phones and houses fearing a socialist revolution, claims band’s drummer

‘We were just a bunch of potheads, smoking weed and playing music,’ said drummer Jimmy Brown

UB40's Ali Campbell claims his former bandmates 'betrayed' him and he will never reunite with them

The drummer of UB40 has claimed that MI5 spies bugged the band’s phones amid fears they were plotting a socialist revolution.

Jimmy Brown – the drummer of the reggae group best known for their 1983 hit “Red Red Wine” – alleged that the British security service were watching UB40 members’ homes and tapping their phones in the Eighties.

Brown told The Guardian: “MI5 were tapping our phones, watching our houses. All sorts.” 

“We thought, ‘Haven’t they got criminals to catch?’” he said. “We were just a bunch of potheads, smoking weed and playing music, talking about solving the world’s problems.”

The 63-year-old continued: “We weren’t planning the revolution, but if the revolution happened, we knew what side we were going to be on.”

Brown’s claims concur with those of MI5 whistleblower David Shayler who in 1997, as reported by The Daily Mail, alleged that the security service spent “years and years” spying on UB40 under the assumption the band were communists plotting to overthrow the government.

UB40 singer Ali Campbell had previously said the band intended to sue MI5 in order to retrieve recordings of their phone tappings. They decided against taking legal measures in case he and his bandmates ended up “with poisoned umbrellas sticking out of our a***holes”.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday (6 May), Campbell  added that the band was the “real deal” when it came to tackling social injustice, racism, poverty, apartheid and Thatcherism. 

“We were eight people who had been unemployed since school, trying to wade through Thatcher’s quagmire of s*** and then sing about it. We were politicised, were disenfranchised, and we had a lot to say,” said Campbell.

Their 1980 track “Madam Medusa” railed against Margaret Thatcher and her rise to power.

UB40 release their new album Bigga Baggariddium on 25 June.

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