On this day in music history: October 15, 1988 - “Red Red Wine” by UB40 hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Neil Diamond, it is the first US chart topper for the reggae/pop fusion band from Birmingham, UK. Formed in 1978, the band UB40 takes their name from the document form that recipients must fill out to receive unemployment benefits. The band is led by brothers Robin (guitar, vocals) and Ali (Alistair Ian) Campbell (lead vocals, guitar), with Earl Falconer (bass), Jimmy Brown (drums), Mickey Virtue (keyboards), Brian Travers (saxophone), and Astro (born Terence Brown) (trumpet, vocals). UB40 receive their big break in 1980 when Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders sees them performing at a pub in London, offering them the opening act spot on her bands first major tour of the UK. The exposure heightens their profile significantly, leading to a record deal with indie label Graduate Records before forming their own label DEP International Records (distributed by Virgin Records). After three successful albums containing original material, UB40 record the album “Labour Of Love” in 1983. “Love” consists of cover versions of the bands favorite reggae, ska and dub songs recorded by artists the members grew up loving like The Melodians, Jimmy Cliff, The Slickers, and Bob Marley. A major favorite of the band is “Red Red Wine”, recorded by Jamaican singer Tony Tribe in 1969. His version is a minor hit in the UK, peaking at #45 on the UK singles chart. Tragically, Tribe’s career is cut short when he is killed in a car accident in Canada in 1970. When UB40 covers “Red Red Wine”, they are unaware that the song is a cover, and was written and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1968. UB40’s version is a huge hit throughout much of the world, hitting number one on the UK singles chart for three weeks in September of 1983. With reggae only enjoying a cult following in the US, the record is only a minor hit Stateside, initially peaking at #34 on the Hot 100 in March of 1984. Fast forward ahead four years later, and UB40 releases their self-titled eighth album which is another hit worldwide, but only makes a modest showing in the US. Program director Guy Zapoleon at KZZP in Phoenix, AZ revives the nearly five year old “Red Red Wine” by placing it in heavy rotation when the station begins receiving heavy listener requests for the song. Zapoleon contacts UB40’s US label A&M Records to convince them to reissue the record. In the midst of promoting their latest album, they initially ignore Zapoleon’s request, until other stations begin adding “Wine” their playlists. Finally, A&M re-releases “Red Red Wine” in July of 1988. Re-entering the Hot 100 at #85 on August 13, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The belated success of “Red Red Wine” in the US also drives the album “Labor Of Love” into the top twenty on the Top 200, going Double Platinum. “Red Red Wine” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.