George's androgynous style caught the attention of music executive Malcolm McLaren, who arranged for George to appear as Lieutenant Lush in a theater concert with Annabella Lwin. Although George and Lwin's act didn't last long, it did introduce George to former DJ Mikey Craig, with whom he created a duo named In Praise Of Lemmings, with Craig playing bass guitar. Shortly after, Adam Ant drummer Jon Moss and guitarist Roy Hay came into the mix, and they changed the name of the band to Culture Club.
The band's breakthrough hit in the UK was "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?", which enjoyed wide exposure on the music station, MTV. This was followed by "Time (Clock Of The Heart)" and the debut album "Kissing To Be Clever". In 1983, the band had their biggest year, dominating the singles charts with "Church Of The Poison Mind"; "Karma Chameleon" (the biggest selling single of the year, which had six weeks at No.1) and "Victims". The corresponding album, "Colour By Numbers", was a massive seller and spawned a fourth and final single, "It's A Miracle" in early 1984.
George's striking looks inspired many a Boy George look-alike contest around the world, and George's face became the image of Culture Club. He became an alternative teen idol, and had the extravagant lifestyle to go with it. Part of his unique appeal was attributed to his wit and charisma; he is responsible for one of the 1980s' most famous quotes - I prefer a nice cup of tea to sex - and his distinctive, soulful voice.
By 1984 Boy George had become a household name in many countries around the world. That year he appeared, orange-haired, on the Band Aid single to for Ethiopia, performing the second line of the song after Paul Young sang the first. The band flew in on Concorde from New York especially for the recording at the SARM studios. They arrived 12 hours after everyone else, meaning that George was the last to record his vocals and they were absent from the official photograph. In 1986, he guest-starred on an episode of The A-Team titled "Cowboy George".
When George said he was bisexual in the mid 1980s, his sexual lifestyle became the target of widespread tabloid newspaper speculation, and eventually he stated he was simply gay. During this time he became addicted to heroin, with an American friend found dead at his his London mansion from an overdose. George's brother went on UK national television and blew the whistle on him, in a desperate attempt to get him to leave the world of drugs. George had recently collapsed on stage at a benefit concert. He finally quit using heroin in 1987.
At the same time, Culture Club was dissolved, and his solo hit "Everything I Own" became a No.1 hit in the UK. Many of his following releases were produced to protest against the UK's restrictions on homosexual propaganda from Clause 28. In 1989, George formed his own label, named More Protein, and a band named Jesus Loves You, a tribute to the Christianity that helped him overcome his drug problem and included the hit "Bow Down Mister", which was attributed to George's belief in the Hare Krishna movement.
Life after Culture Club
In 1992, George saw a resurgence in his career with a Pet Shop Boys produced cover version of the song "The Crying Game", which was featured on the movie of the same name and was a top twenty hit in the US. He then produced Cheapness And Beauty a few years later. From that album, he released his version of the Iggy Pop song "Funtime", which coincided with his autobiography Take It Like A Man.
Boy George continues to remain a global pop icon and a successful music DJ. He once again started touring the world as a DJ in the late 1990s and starred in the London musical Taboo. This musical has been a huge success in London's West End. During 2003 he presented a weekly show on London's LBC radio for 6 months. George has been reported by fans who have met him in person to be an avid autograph signer. In August 1994, a British court tossed out a paternity suit filed against him by a Californian woman.
Harper Collins published the autobiography of Boy George, Take It Like A Man, in 1995. George wrote of his relationship with Kirk Brandon, singer with Spear of Destiny and the earlier Theatre of Hate, who began a High Court action against George.
George, taking the witness stand, faced a "malicious falsehood" charge brought against him by Brandon, now married and a father, who denied that he once had a sexual relationship with George. Brandon lost. During the trial, Boy George had claimed that Kirk Brandon had been the love of his life and that he still loved him.
In his book, George also told his side of his secret relationship with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. He alleged that Moss had broken off his engagement to be with George, but Moss was never comfortable with the relationship.
In July 1998, a reunited Culture Club performed three dates in Monte Carlo and then joined Human League and Howard Jones in a "Big Rewind" tour of the US. The following month, the band appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and made an appearance in Britain, their first in 14 years. Later that year, the band had a Top Ten hit in the UK with "I Just Wanna Be Loved".
In 1998, Boy George began writing a weekly column in The Daily Express and hosted a weekly radio show on the Galaxy Radio Network.
In April 2002, Madonna wrote a note to George demanding that he remove a modified version of her 1990 song "Vogue" from his West End musical Taboo. Madonna was reportedly displeased that George had taken the liberty not only of using her song but of changing the lyrics - to "Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, that Madonna, dyes her hair."
Radio Stations in Britain and the United States continue to not play Boy George's new releases, but he remains a true global pop icon and successful DJ.
Boy George has also sung "Bow Down Mister" with the Indian songstress, Asha Bhosle.
He has also recently appeared as a guest on the British comedy-talk show The Kumars at No. 42.
In 2005 he published "Straight" in Britain, his second autobiographical book. He lives in Manhattan.
London newspaper, 1984: "I'm not gay, and I'm not a transvestite." (At other times he has characterized himself as "bisexual", "very confused", "not confused", and "not really all that keen on sex". He has also stated "I have never penetrated a woman in my life.")
See also Culture Club
- Sold (1987)
- Tense Nervous Headache (1988)
- Boyfriend (1989)
- High Hat (1989)
- The Martyr Mantras (1990)
- Spin Dazzle (1992)
- At Worst: The Best of Boy George and Culture Club (1993) compilation
- Devil in Sister (1994)
- Cheapness and Beauty (1995)
- Unrecoupable One Man Bandit (1998)
- Everything I Own (1999)
- Galaxy Mix (1999) compilation
- A Night Out With Boy George (2002)
- U Can Never B 2 Straight (2002)
- In and Out With Boy George: A DJ Mix (2002)
- BoyGeorgeDJ.Com (2003)
- Taboo (2004) soundtrack
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- Boy George Authorised/Official Site
- Boy George fansite
- Boy George on Yahoo!
- Allmusic.com Boy George
- MTV.com Boy George
- VH1.com Boy George
- Boy George Fashion & Make-up Book
- Boy George Timeline