|Birth Name:||George Alan O'Dowd|
|Birth Date:||14 June 1961|
|Birth Place:||Bexley, Kent, England|
|Occupation:||Singer-songwriter, Disc Jockey (DJ), Fashion Designer, Performer, Photographer, Producer|
|Genre:||New Wave, Soul, Pop, Soft Rock, Disco|
|Label:||Virgin Records, Epic Records, Plan A Records|
|Associated Acts:||Culture Club, Jesus Loves You, Mark Ronson, Bow Wow Wow|
Boy George (born George Alan O'Dowd on 14 June 1961) is an English singer-songwriter who was part of the English New Romanticism movement which emerged in the early 1980s. He helped give androgyny an international stage with the success of Culture Club during the 1980s. His music is often classified as blue-eyed soul, which is influenced by rhythm and blues and reggae. His 1990s and 2000s-era solo music has glam influences such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop. He also founded and was lead singer of Jesus Loves You during the period 1989–1992. Being involved in many activities (among them songwriting, DJing, writing books, designing clothes and photography), he has released fewer music recordings in the last decade.
Boy George was born George Alan O'Dowd at Barnehurst Hospital in Bexley, Kent on 14 June 1961, to Jeremiah and Dinah O'Dowd (née Glynn), who were originally from Thurles, County Tipperary in Ireland. He attended Eltham Green School in Eltham. He is one of six children. His siblings are Richard, Kevin, David, Gerald, and Siobhan.
He was a follower of the New Romantic movement which was popular in Britain in the early 1980s. George frequently lived at the infamous Warren Street Squat in Central London. George and his friend Marilyn were regulars at The Blitz, a trendy London nightclub run by Steve Strange of the group Visage. George and Marilyn also worked at the nightclub as cloakroom attendants.
Boy George's androgynous style of dressing caught the attention of music executive Malcolm McLaren (previously the manager of the Sex Pistols), who arranged for George to perform with the group Bow Wow Wow, featuring Annabella Lwin. Boy George's tenure with Bow Wow Wow proved quite popular, much to the dismay of Lwin, the group's actual lead singer. His association ended soon afterwards and he started his own group with bassist Mikey Craig. Next came Jon Moss (who had drumming stints with The Damned and Adam and the Ants), and then Roy Hay. The group called themselves In Praise of Lemmings, but the name was later abandoned, as was their next name, Sex Gang Children. Realizing they had a transvestite Irish singer (George), a black-Briton (Craig), a Jewish drummer (Moss), and an Anglo-Saxon Englishman (Hay), they settled on the name Culture Club, referring to the various ethnic backgrounds of the members.
The band recorded demos that were paid for by EMI Records but the label declined to sign them. Virgin Records, however, expressed interest in signing the group in the UK for European releases, while Epic Records handled the US and North American distribution. They recorded their debut album Kissing to Be Clever (UK#5, US#14,) and it was released in 1982. The single "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", became an international hit, reaching #1 in a dozen countries around the world, plus top ten in several more countries (US #2). This was followed by the Top 5 hit "Time (Clock of the Heart)" in the US and UK, and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" which reached US #9. This gave Culture Club the distinction of being the first group since the Beatles to have three Top 10 hits in the US from a debut album.
Their next album, Colour By Numbers was an enormous success, topping the UK charts and hit #2 in the US. The single "Church of the Poison Mind" became a Top 10 hit, and "Karma Chameleon" became an international hit, peaking at #1 in sixteen countries, and the top ten in additional countries. It hit #1 in the US where it stayed for three weeks. It was the best-selling single of the year in the United Kingdom, where it spent six weeks at
George and Roy Hay co-wrote the group's contributions to the movie soundtrack Electric Dreams with the songs "Love is Love" and "The Dream". The P. P. Arnold song "Electric Dreams" was written by George and Phil Pickett.
The band's third album Waking Up with the House on Fire (UK#2, US#26) featured the hit single "The War Song" and a modest hit in "Mistake No. 3". George then provided a lead vocal role on the Band Aid international hit single "Do They Know It's Christmas." He was not featured on the cover sleeve of the single. Proceeds from the single were donated to feed famine victims in Africa, particularly Ethiopia. In 1986, George guest-starred on an episode of the television action-drama series The A-Team, in which he played himself. The episode was entitled "Cowboy George".
George had been occasionally using drugs for several years, and by 1985, he had developed a heroin addiction. His relationship with Jon Moss had also completely soured, and the two could hardly be around each other at that point. The group released its fourth album, From Luxury To Heartache (UK#10, US#32), and it featured one hit single, "Move Away". However, word shortly began circulating in tabloids that George was addicted to drugs. He was arrested in Britain for possession of cannabis. Shortly thereafter, keyboardist Michael Rudetsky, who co-wrote the song "Sexuality" on Culture Club's From Luxury to Heartache album, was found dead of a heroin overdose in George's London home. George had expressed interest in working with the keyboardist on a solo album George was planning. Rudetsky's parents filed a wrongful death suit in Britain against George, seeking financial damages for their son's death. With George's drug addiction, the underwhelming performance of their latest album, a soured romance between band members shrouded in secrecy, and a wrongful death lawsuit, the group ultimately disbanded. George would win the court case against the Rudetskys, and would not be required to pay any monetary damages. He would agree to seek treatment for his addiction. Following next would be the death of his friend Mark Vaultier, who overdosed on methadone and Valium at a party. George had been arrested en-route to the party on suspicion of carrying drugs.
Boy George, now a solo artist and now signed to Virgin Records in the US and internationally, entered treatment for his addiction. He was prescribed narcotics to treat his heroin addiction. In kicking his heroin addiction, he then became addicted to those prescription narcotics that were used during his treatment. In 1987, he released his first solo album, Sold, and enjoyed its success in Europe. It spawned the UK singles "Everything I Own" (UK #1), "Keep Me In Mind" (UK #29), "To be Reborn" (UK #13), and the title song, "Sold" (UK #24). The singles were hits in various other European countries as well. The album's success, however, was not duplicated in the US. This may be due in part to the fact that George was prohibited by US authorities from travelling to America for several years because of his British drug charges. He did score his first solo Top 40 hit with the single "Live My Life" (US #40) from the Hiding Out soundtrack. Tense Nervous Headache (1988), and Boyfriend (1989) would be his next two internationally released albums; however, these two albums would not be distributed in the US. Instead, Virgin Records selected several songs from each of these two albums for a North American-only release called High Hat (1989). This album scored a US Top 5 R&B hit in "Don't Take My Mind On A Trip", produced by Teddy Riley. George's following single in the UK was a protest song against the UK Conservative Party's legal restriction that anyone working for a local authority be barred from "promoting" homosexuality. The song, 'No Clause 28 (Emilio Pasquez Space Face Full Remix)' was an underground acid house hit.
In 1989, George formed his own record label, More Protein, and began recording under the name Jesus Loves You, (writing under the pseudonym Angela Dust, a word play off angel dust). He released several underground hits; "After The Love", "Generations Of Love", and "Bow Down Mister", the latter giving him a UK Top 30 hit in 1991. Inspired by his involvement in the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), George had written the song during a trip to India. Another single, "One On One", featured a remix by Massive Attack.
From March 1990 to April 1991, George presented a weekly chat and music show on the Power Station satellite channel called Blue Radio. In 1992, George had a major US and UK hit with the song "The Crying Game", from the movie soundtrack of the same name. The movie became a surprise hit and the single reached the #11 in the US. Although he had had several solo hits in Europe, this would be Boy George's biggest US hit since Culture Club's "Move Away" reached the US Top 20.
He has also enjoyed a second career as a notable music DJ. His first gig as a DJ was at Phillip Sallon's new nightclub, Planet's, located in Pickadilly. In the 1990s he came to the attention of legendary rave/house promoters Fantazia who asked him to mix 1 of the discs on the 2 volume in their new compilation series Fantazia The House Collection 2. This compilation was a success in the UK, going gold. The album was also sold to Sony for European-wide release. London nightclub Ministry of Sound hired him to compile one of their first CDs, and it promptly sold 100,000 copies. He then completed some compilations for them, five of them being the Annual I to V.
George made many recordings between 1990 and 1994, but none were issued. In 1992 a pop and world music-oriented album was scheduled for release by a group George was fronting called Jesus Loves You. The album, to be named "Popularity Breeds Contempt", was never released. An EP entitled "Sweet Toxic Love" released in 1990 reached #65 on the UK Chart. The phrase "popularity breeds contempt" was used as the opening line on the beginning of the 1993 greatest hits album At Worst: The Best of Boy George and Culture Club. In 1993, George was featured on the P.M. Dawn single "More Than Likely" which became a moderate US and UK hit.
George showed an interest in releasing a rock album. He released the rock-driven album Cheapness and Beauty in 1995, but the album was not successful, although the single "Same Thing in Reverse" became a minor US hit. The Unrecoupable One Man Bandit Volume One was the next album release, first being sold on the internet only. It was then distributed by independent labels. Another project from the time was a new group that would include Boy George and two long-time musicians, John Themis and Ritchie Stevens. Initially named "Shallow", it was later re-named "Dubversive". The project took place in 1997 and was to include trip-hop, dub and reggae. The project was not picked up by any major labels but some of the songs were later included on the 2002 Culture Club Box Set, and some others appeared on eBay in 2004.
On some other labels, several dance-oriented songs were released in various countries. For example, "Love is Leaving" went Top 3 in Italy and "When Will You Learn" reached the top positions in the Swiss charts. "When Will You Learn" was also nominated for the Best Dance Recording, at the Grammy Awards. In 1999, Boy George collaborated on songs with dance-oriented acts. For example, "Why Go", a slow-paced track with Faithless, from their Sunday 8 PM LP, was later released in a remixed form in some European countries and Australia. A track was done with Groove Armada, named "Innocence Is Lost", but was only released on a promo 12" in 1999.
Boy George remained a figure in the public eye, starring in the London musical Taboo, based on his life (George did not play himself, opting instead to take on the persona of Australian-born performance artist Leigh Bowery). Boy George was nominated for a Tony Award for the "Best Musical Score" and Taboo was a great success in London's West End, though a heavily-altered Rosie O'Donnell-produced run in New York City was short-lived (100 performances, versus the two-year run in London).
In 2002, Boy George released U Can Never B2 Straight, an "unplugged" collection of rare and lesser known acoustic works. It contained unreleased tracks from previous years as well as some ballads from Cheapness And Beauty and the Culture Club album Don't Mind if I Do. It received the best reviews of Boy George's solo career, many of them highlighting his strong song writing abilities. The record was only released in the UK and Japan, and received almost no promotion from Virgin Records, only rising to #147 on the UK album charts.
From 2002 to 2004, under the pseudonym "the Twin", Boy George experimented in electronica, releasing limited edition 7" singles and promo records. Performed in small venues such as the Nag Nag Club, the material was considered innovative, but not commercially marketable. This period, however, was a very creative and liberating one for George; for "the Twin", could sing whatever he wanted. The limited releases included four 500 to 520 copies 7", one limited 12" (for Sanitized) and a promo CD, 1000 copies 13-track album Yum Yum. Two years later, it was released via digital outlets like iTunes. An album recorded in the Spring of 2003 was also shelved. A collaboration with electronic combo T-Total, the album was a collection of covers of songs by Jefferson Airplane, David Bowie, John Lennon, Dusty Springfield, T. Rex, and Eurythmics among others. It is suggested that Boy George's numerous abandoned projects are due to his broad interest and need to explore other creative mediums such as photography, writing, and fashion.
During 2003, he presented a weekly show on London radio station LBC 97.3 for six months. He wrote the foreword for a feng shui book called Practical Feng Shui by Simon G. Brown (published in 1998). He also appeared as a guest on the British comedy-talk show The Kumars at No. 42. In March 2005 he was the guest host for an episode of The Friday Night Project, for Channel 4 television.
On his "More Protein" website, George did announce another unreleased album, named Straight, for mid-2005. It was to include tracks such as "Panic" and "Talking Love". Four tracks were released as a sampler with the book of the same name in 2005. A reggaeton oriented EP was also planned for August 2006 but was never released. Some recent tracks were shared by George himself in late 2006 and early 2007 on his YouTube account, his three Myspace pages and sometimes on his official site. In January 2007, Boy George released "Time Machine" on Plan A Records. "Time Machine" was co-written by double Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Amanda Ghost who also co-wrote "You're Beautiful" with James Blunt.
On 20 October 2006, it was announced that he would be writing some tracks for Kylie Minogue (News.com.au story) with Amanda Ghost; however, the songs were not included on her 2007 album. It was not the first time that George wrote songs for other artists; in the past, he shared songwriting credits with the Beach Boys, Caron Wheeler, Charlotte Church, Mica Paris and many others. He also wrote many of the tracks for the artists on his own dance oriented music label, More Protein, such as Eve Gallagher, Zee Asha, Lippy Lou, and E-Zee Posse.
Boy George has run his own fashion line for some years, called "B-Rude". B-Rude has shown at fashion shows in London, New York and Moscow. On 24 December 2006, George appeared on a one-off BBC TV programme Duet Impossible in which he performed with himself from the 1980s and joked about his street cleaning.
Later in 2007, two electronica/dance collaborations were released in limited editions. In the spring, the track "You're Not The One" was remixed from an old demo and released with the dance combo "Loverush UK" reaching the top 20 in the UK dance chart. It was a digital-only release, available in many digital retailers like iTunes. Also on iTunes, a new collaboration with trip-hop/electro band Dark Globe, called "Atoms", was released on 19 November. The single contains eight versions, from the slow original to electro remixes by Ariya and Henrik Schwarz. Also in late 2007, an EP titled "Disco Abomination" appeared on the internet, available for download on several underground outlets. It included new remixes of tracks like "Turn 2 Dust", "Love Your Brother", and covers of "Don't Wanna See Myself" and "Go Your Own Way". Most of the versions are remixes done by German producer Kinky Roland.
On 25 February 2007, George was special guest DJ at LGBT nightspot, The Court Hotel in Perth, Western Australia. On 4 March 2007, George performed as a DJ at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney for the Mardi Gras Festival. On 11 May 2007, George performed as a DJ at the launch party for the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, UAE. George cancelled his planned 2007 October tour via an announcement on his official website. In 2007: George toured as a DJ, visiting Florence, Stuttgart, Rotterdam, Toulouse, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Dubai, Skopje, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Toronto, Cagliari, Blackpool, Coventry, Munich, Naples, Mantova, Lyon, Follonica, Paris, Kristiansand, Noli, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Amsterdam, Beirut, Budapest, Skanderborg, Baia, London, Mykonos, Geneva, Lausanne, Stockholm, Manchester, Brussels, Bologna, Hong Kong, Letterkenny, Aix-en-Provence, Reims, Moscow and Genova.
Upon his return from prison Boy George resumed his successful DJ career embarking on a worldwide tour of clubs. George has played a special residency at the Shaw Theatre in London (in which all shows were sold out) from 23 January 2008, followed by a full UK tour. In April 2008, The Biography Channel featured a documentary on the life of Boy George. The American tour which was planned for July/August 2008 had to be cancelled because he had been denied a United States visa due to a London court case scheduled for November 2008. On 2 July, 6 concert dates in South America were announced. Boy George participated in RETROFEST held in Scotland in August 2008, and a 30-date UK tour took place in October/November 2008.
In 2009 he signed a new record deal subsequently releasing the album Ordinary Alien – The Kinky Roland Files in the autumn of 2010. The album consisted of previously recorded tracks mixed by longtime dance partner Kinky Roland.He took part in Night of the Proms, which is a series of concerts held yearly in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Regularly there are also shows in France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Scandinavian countries. The concerts consist of a combination of pop music and popular classical music (often combined) and various well-known musicians and groups usually participate.
In December 2009, Boy George had a successful run of concerts at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's West End.
19 November saw the release of British DJ and musician Mark Ronson’s third single from his album Record Collection. Somebody to Love Me featured Boy George and was met with critical acclaim from critics and also meant a return to BBC Radio 1’s play list after being banned for many years.
On 11 May 2009, Boy George was released from prison at HMP Edmunds Hill in Newmarket, Suffolk, four months into a fifteen-month sentence for the assault and false imprisonment of a male escort, in his East London flat. He was tagged and placed on a curfew for the remainder of the sentence.
In July 1998, a reunited Culture Club performed three dates in Monte Carlo and then joined the Human League and Howard Jones in a "Big Rewind" tour of the US. The following month, the band appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and made an appearance in Britain, their first in 14 years. Later that year, the band had a Top 5 hit in the UK with "I Just Wanna Be Loved" and later a top 30 hit with "Your Kisses are Charity". In 2006, the band decided to again reunite and tour; however, George declined to join them for this tour. As a result, two members of Culture Club replaced George with vocalist Sam Butcher. George has expressed his displeasure at the turn of events. Finally, after one showcase and one live show, that project was shelved.
By the late 1980s, George had been struggling with his severe heroin addiction for many years. He attempted to perform concerts while under its influence. Addictions to other drugs soon followed. Determined to save George's life, his younger brother David made an appearance on UK national television and discussed George's drug habit, which George had been publicly denying at that time. In 1986, Boy George was arrested for heroin possession as part of 'Operation Culture.'.
In 1995, Kirk Brandon sued George for libel claiming that George mentioned a love affair between them in George's autobiography, Take It Like a Man. George won the court case and Brandon was ordered to pay £200,000 to Virgin Records, EMI Virgin Music and the book publisher in costs. Brandon declared himself bankrupt, which resulted in Boy George paying over £60,000 in legal fees.
On 7 October 2005, George was arrested in Manhattan on suspicion of cocaine possession and falsely reporting a burglary. George denied that the drug was his. In court on 1 February 2006, the cocaine possession charge was dropped and George pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a burglary. He was sentenced to five days of community service, fined US$1,000 and ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation program.
On 17 June 2006, a Manhattan judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Boy George after he failed to appear in court for a hearing on why George wanted to change his sentence for the false burglary report. George's attorney informed the court that he had advised George not to appear at that hearing.
On 14 August 2006, George reported to the New York Department of Sanitation for his court-ordered community service. As a result of the swarming media coverage, he was allowed to finish his community service inside the Sanitation Department grounds.
In a February 2007 interview, the performer explained: “People have this idea of Boy George now, particularly the media: that I’m tragic, fucked up. I mean, I’m all those things, but I’m also lots of other things. Yes, I’ve had my dark periods, but that isn’t all I am.”
On 5 December 2008, George was convicted in Snaresbrook Crown Court, London, of the assault and false imprisonment of Audun Carlsen. On 16 January 2009, he was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment for these offences. George stated that Carlsen was viewing his private information without George's consent. Initially sent to HMP Pentonville in London, George was later transferred to HMP Edmunds Hill in Newmarket, Suffolk (a category C prison).
On 11 May 2009, George was released after serving four months of his 15 month custodial sentence at HMP Edmunds Hill. He was released on home detention curfew and was required to wear an ankle monitor for 90 days.
On 23 December 2009, George had his request to appear on the final series of Celebrity Big Brother turned down by the Probation Service. Richard Clayton QC, representing the Probation Service, said George's participation would pose "a high level of risk" to the service's reputation. Clayton argued that if he used the show to promote his status as a celebrity and earn "a lucrative sum of money" it could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.
In January 2011, George agreed to return to the Church of Cyprus an 18th-century icon of Christ that he had bought without knowing its origin. The icon, which had adorned his home for 26 years, had been looted from the church of St Charalampus from the village of New Chorio, near Kythrea. George had originally purchased the icon from a London art dealer eleven years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. He returned the icon at the Saints Anargyroi Church, Highgate, north London. 
Harper Collins published his first autobiography, Take It Like a Man, in 1995, written with Spencer Bright. The book was released to coincide with the timing of George's solo album, Cheapness and Beauty, actually released at the same time, dealing with the same themes, and also including a number of photographs as in the book. Take It Like a Man was a bestseller in the UK.
In 2005, Century published Straight, his second autobiographical book, this time written with author Paul Gorman. It stayed in The Sunday Times bestseller list for six weeks. This latter autobiography starts off there where the former had stopped, though the two works are different in style, due to their different co-authors, and all of the chapters have a title in the 2005 book, while the 1995 autobiography only featured numbered sections.
Gorman has also ghost-written Cry Salty Tears, the memoirs of George's mother Dinah O'Dowd, which was published by Arrow Books, in January 2007. The same year also saw the publication of Straight in paperback. It was originally supposed to be updated, but Boy George declined to do so since he felt the book was too bitter and negative about other people, and he regretted writing it.
When Boy George was with Culture Club, much was made of his androgynous appearance, and there was speculation about his sexuality. When asked in interviews, George gave various answers. He gave a famous, oft-quoted response to an interviewer that he preferred "a nice cup of tea" to sex.
In Take It Like a Man, George told his side of his secret relationships with punk rock singer Kirk Brandon and Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. He stated many of the songs he wrote for Culture Club were directed at Moss. However, one of Culture Club's biggest hits "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" was about Brandon. Moss acknowledged that he had a sexual and romantic relationship with George, but Brandon denies he ever had a relationship with George.
In 2006, in an episodic documentary directed by Simon George titled The Madness of Boy George, George declared on camera he was "militantly gay". In a 2008 documentary Living with Boy George, he talks about his first realisation he was gay, and when he first told his parents. He discloses that he understands why men fall in love with one another as well as with women.
In 1984, during the height of the popularity of Culture Club, country singers Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley recorded a parody called "Where's the Dress". In the song, they see Boy George on television and decide they can be more successful if they dressed like him. The intro to the song is identical to "Karma Chameleon" before it goes into a traditional country feel, which in turn caused problems due to copyright infringement. However, the song reached #8 on the country charts. Boy George was portrayed on film by Douglas Booth in the BBC2 drama documentary Worried About the Boy. The TV film was aired in May 2010.
See main article: Boy George discography.
See also: Culture Club discography.