Happy birthday Boy George – born on this day in 1961.
Boy George’s androgynous style of dressing caught the attention of Malcolm McLaren (previously the manager of the Sex Pistols), who arranged for George to perform with Bow Wow Wow. His association ended soon afterwards and he started his own group with bassist Mikey Craig, followed by drummer Jon Moss and guitarist Roy Hay. Calling themselves In Praise of Lemmings, 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 ethnic background of the members.
Culture Club’s debut album Kissing to Be Clever, released in 1982, spawned the international hit singles “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, followed by the Top 5 hit “Time (Clock of the Heart)”, and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”. This gave Culture Club the distinction of being the first group since The Beatles to have three Top 10 hits in the U.S. from a debut album.
Their next album, Colour By Numbers, was an enormous success, topping the UK charts and peaking at #2 in the U.S. The single “Karma Chameleon” became a #1 in sixteen countries, including #1 in the U.S. where it stayed for three weeks.
He started DJing in the early 1990s and came to the attention of legendary rave/house promoters Fantasia who asked him to mix tracks for a compilation series. London nightclub Ministry of Sound also hired him to compile one of their first CDs, and it promptly sold 100,000 copies.
My favourite Boy George tale is from 1999 when he narrowly escaped serious injury after a massive 62lb glitter ball fell on his head. George suffered severe bruising on his face after the wire holding the ball in place above the stage had snapped. Having survived, the singer remarked that it would have been both ironic and glamorous to be finished off by a four-foot glitter ball.
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