UB40’s Ali Campbell has told how a serious eye injury as a teenager made him regard NHS nurses as “angels”, as he released a cover of Lean On Me to raise money for the Covid-19 appeal.
UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro have recorded the Bill Withers classic to pay tribute to the soul singer, who died earlier this month, and raise vital funds for NHS Charities Together.
Campbell told the PA news agency: “It’s absolutely the zeitgeist song, it says everything that everybody feels and it’s so important that we support our NHS, our front-line workers who are, as we speak, putting their lives on the line, to save politicians that have stripped them of all their resources, ironically.
“It’s very interesting times and very testing and I just thought what a nice thing to do, to big up Bill Withers and raise some money for the fund.”
Discussing how important the NHS has been in his own life, Campbell said: “I was in a pub on my 17th birthday, I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, and got involved in a bar fight and I was glassed.
“I got hit in the face with a big beer jug and I ended up with 90 stitches in the left side of my face and eight stitches in my eye and I was in the Birmingham Eye Hospital for a month.
“It was quite a severe attack and a year after that, after I healed up, my older brother put in for criminal injury compensation.
“I was on £7.90 a week at the time on the dole and suddenly £4,500 came through my letter box and I used that money to buy the first equipment for the band.
“From then I have always thought of nurses as angels and they truly are and what they are doing now proves their mettle.
“Would any of these pompous dithering politicians put their lives on the line like our NHS staff? I don’t think so.
“I think that might be one of the good things to come out of this horrible mess, I don’t think they are going to carry on dismantling the NHS after this and we should not be taking for granted all the public workers like the binmen and everybody else, who are soldiering through.
“If there is going to be a positive out of this terrible tragedy it will be that people get their priorities right and nurses should be the best paid people in our society.”
Lean On Me, in aid of NHS Charities Together, is out now.