Culture Club Star
“I am what I am. There's nothing I can do about it.” Boy George
British musician, DJ and actor Boy George was hurled toward fame as the lead singer of 80's band Culture Club, with whom he delivered the massive hit singles "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" and "Karma Chameleon." He later went solo and made many albums, including Sold (1987), Tense Nervous Headache (1988), Boyfriend (1989) and High Hat (1989). He also scored a hit with a version of the song "The Crying Game," which was featured on the movie of the same name in 1992. Additionally, beginning from the early 1990s, George has created a second career as a DJ and has garnered attention on the U.K. and U.S. club circuits.
“I'm bisexual... when I want sex, I buy it.” Boy George
The 6' artist, known for his flamboyant appearance back in the 80s and early 90s, was listed as one of “the most influential gay men and women” in the Independent on Sunday [UK] 2006 Pink List, and was named one of the 100 greatest Britons by a poll directed by the BBC in 2002. He was involved with Kirk Brandon (born on August 3, 1956; dated from 1980 to 1981), singer for the rock band Spear of Destiny, and Jon Moss (born on September 11, 1957; dated in the 1980s), the drummer for Culture Club.
“Funnily enough, really cold, uptight, aggressive types, that wouldn't give me a second look. Indifference, what an aphrodisiac! Have you ever heard the saying 'the victim identifying with the persecutor'? Seriously, I like vulnerability, nice eyes and a kind heart. I don't mind a bit of pudge or skinny guys. I'm not a size queen either.” Boy George (on kind of men he goes for)
George, who suffers from depression, overcame a heroin addiction that nearly killed him in 1987 by electro-acupuncture treatment. Some of his friends had already died of overdoses, one of whom was keyboardist and “Sexuality” co-writer Michael Rudetsky, who was found dead in George's home in August 1986. George was charged for possession of cannabis by the British police back in July 1986 and was arrested in Manhattan on suspicion of possessing cocaine later in October 2005. More recently, in April 2007, he was arrested for allegedly assaulting and falsely imprisoning a man in his East London home.
“I tend to deal with depression by being angry, which is probably not a good thing. What really makes me depressed? I guess sometimes there's a revelation that you're on your own no matter how many people you know. That's quite depressing.” Boy George
Childhood and Family:
In Eltham, Kent, England, UK, George Alan O'Dowd, who would later be famous as Boy George, was born on June 14, 1961. He has four brothers: David O'Dowd, Gerald O'Dowd, Kevin O'Dowd, Richard O'Dowd, and a sister named Siobhan O'Dowd. He was raised in a large, working-class Irish family.
“When it comes to DJing, I'm more of a shit stirrer than a mixer.” Boy George
Possessing an androgynous style, Boy George, who was a visible figure in the London club scene at the time, attracted the attention of music executive Malcolm McLaren, who is best known as the Sex Pistols manager. McLaren then set up various shows for George alongside the group Bow Wow Wow, featuring Annabella Lwin. During the shows, George, who took the stage name Lieutenant Lush, almost stole the show.
After ending his relationship with Bow Wow Wow, George formed his own group called In Praise Of Lemmings, with bassist Mikey Craig. Drummer Jon Moss and guitarist Roy Hay subsequently joined the group. The group's name then changed into Sex Gang Children before eventually picking the name Culture Club.
In the UK, the band signed with Virgin Records, and in America, they signed with Epic Records. Their debut album was launched in 1982, titled Kissing To Be Clever, which was anchored by the international hit "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" The single peaked at #1 in sixteen countries and topped at #2 in America. Other hit singles followed, including "Time (Clock Of The Heart)," which went to #2, and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya," which climbed to #9. This achievement made the group the first group since the Beatles to amass at least three top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from a debut album.
Colour By Numbers, Culture Club's follow-up album, became another big hit thanks to the worldwide number one single "Karma Chameleon," the group's biggest hit and only U.S. Number-one, topping at #1 for three weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1984 and peaking at #1 in sixteen countries worldwide. In the UK, the single stayed on the chart for six weeks and became the biggest selling single of the year. Singles "Church Of The Poison Mind" (featuring Helen Terry), "Miss Me Blind," "It's A Miracle" and "Victims" also received good positions in charts.
Meanwhile, alongside Roy Hay, George wrote the songs "The Dream" and "Love is Love," as well as the P. P. Arnold song "Electric Dreams" (he co-wrote with Phil Pickett) for the movie soundtrack Electric Dreams, director Steven Barron's 1984 film about a love triangle between a man, a woman and a home computer, which stars Lenny Von Dohlen, Virginia Madsen and Bud Cort (voice). The now-famous singer was then selected as one of the lead vocals on the Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas." He was also spotted as a guest in a 1986 episode of the NBC action adventure series “The A-Team.”
Due to George's growing addiction to drugs in late 1985, Culture Club's musical success began to decline. Their 1986 album From Luxury to Heartache took so long to finish that producer Arif Mardin had to disband the sessions and handed it to engineer Lew Hahn to record the final vocals. George often needed days to finish songs like "Gusto Blusto" and "Reasons." The album also spawned the singles "Move Away" and "God Thank You Woman," which only reached #31 in the UK.
George was charged with possession of cannabis by the British police in July 1986 and after the death of keyboardist Michael Rudetski (died of a heroin overdose in George's home), an American Culture Club tour was canceled and the band parted ways in late 1986.
While struggling to fight his drug addiction, George started to record his first solo album. He enjoyed several hit singles including "Everything I Own" (UK #1), "Keep Me In Mind" (UK #29), "To Be Reborn" (UK #13) and “Sold” (UK #24), from his debut album Sold in 1987. However, he couldn't bring his UK success to America, mainly because he couldn't fly to America because of his previous drug charges. Nevertheless, he still managed to score a moderate hit with the song "Live My Life" (#40 US) from the Hiding Out soundtrack. He also released his second US album, High Hat, which delivered the only hit single, the R&B number "Don't Take My Mind On A Trip." Produced by Teddy Riley, the song climbed to the Top 5 on the R&B chart. He also scored a big underground acid house hit with the song “No Clause 28 (Emilio Pasquez Space Face Full Remix),” which was a protest against the governing UK Conservative Party's legal restrictions on anyone working for a local authority promoting homosexuality.
A cover of the song "The Crying Game" (produced by the Pet Shop Boys), which was featured on the Neil Jordan movie of the same name, was George's last major hit single. It climbed to #22 on the UK singles chart and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the USA. Although he made many recordings between 1990 and 1994, including a pop and world-music oriented album called Popularity Breeds Contempt (1992; set to be released with the pseudonym Jesus Loves You), none of them surfaced.
"My first real DJ gig was at Venus in Nottingham for the pre-David Beckham sarong wearing legend James Ballie. I took my tunes in a cardboard box and played alongside MC Kinky, while Jeremy and Danny Rampling took care of the main dance floor." Boy George
George began working as a DJ in the early 90's and was asked by legendary rave house promoters Fantazia to mix one of the discs in their new compilation series Fantazia The House Collection 2, which went gold in the UK. He was later hired by London mega club Ministry of Sound to compile one of their first CDs, which sold 100,000 copies.
1995 saw the release of George's rock-driven album, Cheapness And Beauty. The number "Same Thing in Reverse" was a minor US hit, but the album itself was not successful. The follow-up album, tentatively named Too Spooky, was recorded in spring 1996 but was not released due to George's problems with Virgin Records. Some of the songs were sold on the internet and released by minor labels. That same year, Harper Collins also published the autobiography of George, “Take It Like A Man.”
In 1997, George was involved in a new group called Shallow, which later was re-named Dubversive, alongside long-time musicians John Themis and Richie Stevens. Unfortunately, the trip-hop, dub and reggae oriented group was shelved because of a lack of interest by record companies. Their song later appeared on the 2002 Culture Club Box set and some others were sold on the Internet in 2004.
Meanwhile, Culture Club reunited in July 1998 by performing in Monte Carlo and joining Human League and Howard Jones in a "Big Rewind" tour of the US. They also made their first appearance in 14 years in Britain and appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” in August that year. They delivered a Top 5 hit in the UK with "I Just Wanna Be Loved" and later a top 30 hit with "Your Kisses are Charity" the following year.
George also released several dance oriented tracks in various countries with some other labels. In Italy, he released "Love is Leaving," which reached the Top 3 in the country, and in Switzerland, he released "When Will You Learn," which peaked at #1 on the country's charts. He also worked on songs with several dance oriented acts, including the slow-paced track "Why Go" with Faithless and "Innocence Is Lost" with Groove Armada.
“Taboo,” the hit musical play based on his life, was George's project during 2001 to 2004. Performed in London in 2002-2003, the play was later brought to Broadway for one hundred performances. George, who wrote all the original songs included in the show, received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Tony Award for the "Best Musical Score."
U Can Never B2 Straight, an "unplugged" collection of George's rare and lesser known acoustic works featuring the unreleased numbers from previous years, as well as some ballads from Cheapness And Beauty and the Culture Club album Don't Mind if I Do, was released only in the UK and Japan in 2002 to good reviews. The record only rose to #147 on the UK album charts and received almost no promotion from Virgin Records.
Under the pseudonym "the Twin," George tried his hand at electronica during 2002 to 2004, which was marked by the release of limited edition 7" singles and promo records. He delivered innovative, but not commercially marketable, materials during this session. He also performed in such small venues as the Nag Nag Club.
A collection-of-cover album with a collaboration with electronic combo T-Total recorded in the Spring of 2003 was also shelved, arguably due to George's various interest to photography, writing and fashion. He also mentioned an unreleased album for summer 2005 called Straight, featuring the numbers "Panic" and "Talking Love." When a book with the same name was released in 2005, four tracks of the recording were featured as a sampler.
In August 2006, George was set to release a reggae oriented EP, but again, it was shelved. He declined to join Culture Club's reunion tour in 2006 and was replaced by vocalist Sam Butcher.
More recently, in January of 2007, George released "Time Machine" on Plan A Records. It was co-written by double Ivor Novello Award winning songwriter Amanda Ghost. Next, George, who has worked with the Beach Boys, Caron Wheeler, Charlotte Church, Mica Paris and many other artists, was set to work with Australian singer Kylie Minogue for her upcoming album scheduled to be released sometime in 2007. In his own dance oriented music label, More Protein, George also has written many tracks for artists like Eve Gallagher, Zee Asha, Lippy Lou, and E-Zee Possee. He is currently working on an upcoming solo project, an LP which apparently will be including some reggae, pop and acoustic songs.
George also continued DJing and recently being a special guest DJ at the GLBT nightspot, The Court Hotel in Perth, Western Australia, Hordern Pavilion in Sydney for the Mardi Gras Festival, and at the launch party for the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, UAE. Additionally, he has been running his own fashion line called "B-Rude," which has been appeared in some fashion shows in London, New-York and Moscow.
“I had started DJing around the UK in about 1989. A handful of promoters like Charlie Chester, Russell and Pete at Progress and the crew at Arena in Middlesborough booked me to play and allowed me to learn in public. Some might say I am still doing that but most things in life are a work in progress. I had done a few back room sets for Debbie and Rick, who threw the big, glamorous Puscha raves and that led to other promoters offering me work. I also played for my friend Philip Sallon at The Mud Club at Bagley's warehouse in Kings Cross. My career as a DJ was never planned, it just grew out of a few nervous gigs for friends, but I started to love it. My manager was absolutely horrified that I was DJing for three hundred pounds a night in dingy clubs and thought it would destroy my reputation.” Boy George (on how DJing became his second career)
Straight, George's second autobiographical book, was published by Century in 2005. Written by author Paul Gorman (ghost writer of Cry Salty Tears, the memoirs of George's mother Dinah O'Dowd), the book stayed on The Sunday Times bestseller list for six weeks. In spring 2007, its paperback version with new material will be published.
George, who wrote a weekly column in The Daily Express, wrote the foreword for a feng shui book called "Practical Feng Shui" by Simon G. Brown (published in 1998). He also collaborated with Dragana G. Brown to publish his own cookbook, "Karma Cookbook" (2001), which contains many macrobiotic (and vegetarian) recipes.