The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
A Decade in the Life
of
Culture Club

George Alan O'Dowd was born 6.14.61 in Eltham, Kent, the third of boxing club manager Jerry O'Dowd's six children. Idolizing the likes of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, George frequented clubs like Billy's, which were the focal points of the New Romantic movement, and became friends with Marilyn, a.k.a. Peter Robinson, a flamboyant cross-dresser, as well as Martin Degville, later a member of the band Sigue Sigue Sputnik. (George and Degville would share a flat in Birmingham for a year.) George is invited to appear with the band Bow Wow Wow by manager Malcolm McLaren (of Sex Pistols fame); his stage persona for this short-lived alliance is Lieutenant Lush. Adopting the name Boy George, he forms a band called In Praise of Lemmings in 1981 with ex-disc jockey and bassist Mikey Craig (2.15.60, Hammersmith, London); joined by guitarist John Suede, they become Sex Gang Children. Drummer Jon Moss (9.11.57, London), previously associated with The Clash and Adam and the Ants, joins the group and the band is renamed Culture Club. Suede departs in 1981 and is replaced by Roy Hay (8.12.61, Southend, Essex). Producer Steve Levine produces the band's first demos in the EMI studios. Their catchy blend of pop, reggae and soul soon attracts the attention of Virgin Records, and Culture Club is soon on its way to conquering the '80s pop scene -- a meteoric rise that is followed by an equally swift and explosive demise...


May 1982
Virgin Records signs the band and releases "White Boy."
June 1982
Peter Powell, BBC Radio DJ, asks the band to record four songs for his program. As they have only three, they quickly write and record "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me."
October 1982
"Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" tops the UK chart for three weeks. The band's debut album, Kissing To Be Clever, soars to U #5.
December 1982
"Time (Clock Of The Heart)," though not on the debut album, hits UK#3.
January 1983
Kissing To Be Clever peaks at #14 on the US album chart; it will remain charted for 88 weeks.
March 1983
"Do You Really Want To Hurt Me," on the US singles chart for a total of 25 weeks, peaks at US#2. Epic distributes the record for Virgin, which lacks an American operation.
April 1983
"Church Of The Poison Mind" makes it to UK#2.
June 1983
"Time (Clock Of The Heart)" soars to US#2 and remains there for two weeks.
August 1983
"I'll Tumble 4 Ya," released only in the US, peaks at #9.
September 1983
Supported by a video filmed on a Mississippi riverboat, "Kharma Chameleon" tops the UK chart, staying there for six weeks and becoming a million-seller.
October 1983
Colour By Numbers, the band's second album, climbs to UK#1 and remains on top for a week. (It will return to the #1 spot in November for two more weeks.) The album is multi-platinum in Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the US.
December 1983
"Church Of The Poison Mind" climbs to US#10 while "Victims" hits UK#3.
February 1984
"Kharma Chameleon" tops the US chart for three weeks; for six weeks Colour By Numbers is held at US#2 by Michael Jackson's chart-topping Thriller. The band is named Best British Group at the 3rd Annual BRIT Awards; "Kharma Chameleon" is named Best British Single.
March 1984
"It's A Miracle" climbs to UK#4. In June the song will peak at US#13.
April 1984
"Miss Me Blind" hits US#5.
July 1984
Boy George appears on Face the Nation (CBS).
October 1984
"The War Song" makes it to UK#2.
November 1984
Waking Up With The House On Fire hits UK#2 and US#26 as the band embarks on a US tour with a million-dollar stage production. "The War Song" peaks at US#17. Boy George and drummer Jon Moss also participate in the recording of Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas."
February 1985
After a British tour the band decides to take a break. Moss spends the year in production work. Hay forms a new band, This Way Up. Boy George does the club scene and, with Hay, co-writes "Passing Friend" for the Beach Boys.
April 1986
With new producers -- Arif Mardin and Lew Hahn -- Culture Club's "Move Away" peaks at UK#7.
May 1986
Boy George guest stars on an episode of the NBC-TV series The A-Team. "Move Away" climbs to US#12 while its parent album, From Luxury To Heartache makes UK#10 and US#32.
July 1986
Boy George is arrested on drug possession charges after keyboardist Michael Rudetski dies of an overdose in his house. Addicted to heroin, he begins a drug  rehabilitation program.
March 1987
Boy George launches his solo career with a remake of Bread's "Everything I Own" that soars to UK#1.
May 1987
With the band split up, the compilation album This Time peaks at UK#8 and will remain on the chart for ten weeks.
June 1987
Boy George's debut solo album, Sold, produced by Stewart Levine and Glenn Skinner, peaks at UK#29.
November 1987
Boy George has another hit single in "To Be Reborn," which climbs to UK#13.
February 1988
Boy George's rendition of "Live My Life," from the Hiding Out soundtrack, makes it to US#40.
November 1989
"After The Love," the first single for Jesus Loves You, Boy George's new band, peaks at UK#68.


Kissing To Be Clever (Virgin, 1982)
White Boy
You Know I'm Not Crazy
I'll Tumble 4 Ya
Take Control
Love Twist
Boy-Boy-I'm The Boy
I'm Afraid Of Me
White Boys Can't Control It
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
Take Control

"Sure, sunny, joyous...the ultimate example and logical conclusion of the eclectic early '80s spirit of pop."
New Musical Express

"It's your loss if you miss their emotional depth charges."
Melody Maker

Colour By Numbers (Virgin, 1983)
Kharma Chameleon
It's A Miracle
Black Money
Changing Every Day
That's The Way (I'm Only Trying To Help You)
Church Of The Poison Mind
Miss Me Blind
Mister Man
Stormkeeper
Victims

"Colour by Numbers is by no means a weighty album. Like Kissing to Be Clever, Culture Club's second LP comes from the same school of trendy British pop that's produced ABC, Wham! U.K., Haircut One. Hundred and a dozen other brands of musical candy whose recipes blend synth-pop, Motown and third-world flavors. But unlike other albums of similar ilk, Colour by Numbers has gobs of emotion plastered as thickly as Boy George's makeup, and ten tunes that stick. And the band – drummer Jon Moss, keyboardist-guitarist Roy Hay and bassist Mikey Craig–cooks up a percolating brand of synth-pop that is more than just a quick, superficial ripoff."
Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone 407

"Enough to sing in the shower at least through early next year."
Creem

Waking Up With The House On Fire (Virgin, 1984)
Dangerous Man
War Song
Unfortunate Thing
Crime Time
Mistake No. 3
Dive
Medal Song
Don't Talk About It
Mannequin
Hello Goodbye

"There is a track called 'Mistake No. 3' which is as good a description as any."
Sounds

"Another LP of gold star quality."
Record Mirror

rom Luxury To Heartache (Virgin, 1986)
Move Away
I Pray
Work On Me Baby
Gusto Blusto
Heaven's Children
God Thank You Woman
Reasons
Too Bad
Come Clean
Sexuality

"Now that Culture Club is no longer a phenomenon and merely a cogent band, it will probably never regain the chart supremacy it held in 1983 and '84. But there will always be room for good-natured, tuneful, articulate pop, and in that respect Culture Club is the Eighties equivalent of the Lovin' Spoonful – they may not make you feverish, but there's no better group around to warm you up."
Rob Hoerburger, Rolling Stone 477

"Is George losing his grip on the realities of romance, rumpo, funny clothes and world domination?"
NME


At age 15, Boy George modeled hairstyles in The Hairdressers' Journal.

In August 1994 a British court tossed out a paternity suit filed against Boy George by a California woman.

HarperCollins published the autobiography of Boy George, Take It Like A Man, in 1995. In it, George claimed to have an affair with Kirk Brandon, who began a High Court action against George, charging him with malicious falsehood. The action was dismissed.

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 U.S. The following month the band appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and made their first live appearance in Britain 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.