"I am what I am. There's nothing I can do about it."
Boy George is the extravagant former Culture Club vocalist turned celebrity DJ who regularly appears on the decks in clubs from London to Ibiza. A frequent guest on British television shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, the out and proud gay performer has now turned his hand to the theatre by penning a musical based on the early eighties new romantic scene in London.
Born George Alan O'Dowd on the 14th June 1961 in Kent, England to Irish parents Dianh and Jerry O'Dowd, George had a lively childhood surrounded by four brothers and a sister.
Bow Wow Wow
During the Seventies, he began to take an interest glam rock, in particular David Bowie. After seeing Bowie in outrageous outfits, George started socialising in the fashionable London clubs wearing women's clothing which caught the eye of Malcolm McLaren, who was the manager of the Sex Pistols at the time.
In 1981, McLaren was managing the group Bow Wow Wow which he had formed a year earlier by poaching all the members of Adam and the Ants except for Adam Ant himself. He recruited George, then known as Lieutenant Lush, to front the new wave band with Annabella Lwin. George didn't last long in this position in the group and left shortly after being booed of the stage by the audience at a gig in 1981.
After he left Bow Wow Wow he joined up with ex-Adam and the Ants drummer Jon Moss, guitarist Roy Hay and bassist Mikey Craig to form Culture Club.
Culture Club signed to Virgin in 1982 with George as lead vocalist. The groups first two singles failed to enter the charts despite interest in Boy George from the fashion scene due to his interesting new look.
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, their third single, reached number one with Kissing to be Clever, their debut album following suit. Several of their singles also reached the top ten in the USA and Great Britain but Colour by Numbers made them worldwide stars with the international hit Karma Chameleon hitting the number one spot.
"I don't get all this speedo stuff actually, I mean, whatever happend to the feather boa?"
The group then found themselves regulars on MTV
largely due to George's androgynous
looks and witty responses in interviews.
The next few albums released by Culture Club weren't as successful as predicted and the group started experiencing difficulties. Boy George and Jon Moss who were having a relationship started have problems which affected the groups morale . At the same time George was becoming increasingly addicted to heroin.
After a brief appearance as himself in an episode of The A-Team in an episode entitled Cowboy George, Georges problems grew.
George was arrested in Britain for possession of marijuana. Several days later Michael Rudetski, Culture Clubs session keyboard player was found dead from a heroin overdose in Georges home. George started getting treatment for his addictions but just as things were starting to calm down, Rudetski's parents blamed George for the death of their son and filed a wrongfull death lawsuit against him.
Culture Club then disbanded.
By the next year, 1987, George had overcome his heroin addiction and returned to the music industry with his first solo album entitled Sold. Everything I Own reached number one in the UK with another 5 singles from the album reaching chart positions. Despite this the album was ignored by America.
Tense Nervous Headache, his next album which he recorded in 1988 wasn't even released in America. Neither was his 1989 dance album entitled Boyfriend. Instead Virgin selected songs from these two albums and put them on a compilation album called High Hat for the US market.
In the next few years George became interested in religion and became a Hare Krishna. He released a dance album called The Martyr Mantras under the name of Jesus Loves You but despite the happy-go-lucky tunes it was ignored on the whole the world over.
George experienced a small comeback at the end of 1992 when he released the title song to the film The Crying Game. This was a hit in America and the UK.
Take It Like A Man
Renewed interest in George in 1995 allowed him to release his autobiography, Take It Like A Man.
"When I wrote Take It Like a Man, the album was the record of the book. The early Culture Club songs were much more ambiguous. I'm a huge Joni Mitchell fan - that's what I aspire to as a writer. That's the type of person who inspires me to write. Except that I name names."
This frank story of his life kept his name in the limelight
for a significant amount of time. Enough for him to release a rock
influenced album called Cheapness and Beauty
"Since I did Cheapness & Beauty, my aim was to become much more direct in my writing," - Rolling Stone
Despite George's kiss and tell biography, three years later, in 1998, the former members of Culture Club put their differences behind them and embarked on a reunion tour. This started with an appearance on VH1. The Big Rewind Tour was a huge success and the group released an album of new material called Don't Mind If I Do.
Never Mind The Buzzcocks
George spent the next four years as a special guest on both sides of the microphone on a number of programmes. The Independent Television Commission ruled that in one of these programmes which was broadcast on ITV1, George "exceeded acceptable bounds of taste and decency".
"The unrelenting sexual nature of the whole Boy George interview, and one or two of the references in particular, had gone beyond the limits of the code." ITC
More recently, Boy George has found success by writing Taboo, a musical about the New Romantic scene in London in the early 1980s. Based around the lives of five people active on the London club scene at the time, Taboo is based on true experiences. These five people, performance artist Leigh Bowery, perfomer Marilyn, promoters Phillip Sallon and Steve Strange, and Boy George himself, led interesting lives throughout the eighties. With added humour and extra camp qualities to the show for entertainment value, the show doesn't take itself too seriously and has sold out on numerous dates and had rave reviews whilst touching on serious subjects such as George's drug addiction and Bowery's death from AIDS.
"It was based on my version of the truth. Marilyn always said, 'There's George's version, there's mine and then there's the truth.' The important thing is that what we're doing is a cartoon exaggerated postcard of that period. It's entertainment." Mark Davies, George's collaborator on the project.
In addition to this success, Boy George writes a column for the Daily Express, is a much sought after DJ and one of the UK's top 100 earners.
"When it comes to DJing, I'm more of a shit stirrer than a mixer." Boy George
Television and film credits