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Culture Club: About

Culture Club was a popular 1980s English pop group, perhaps most noticeable for their gender-bending frontman Boy George. The other members of the band were Roy Hay on guitars and keyboards, Mikey Craig playing bass and Jon Moss (ex Damned, London and Adam and the Ants) on drums.

Before the formation of Culture Club, George sang briefly with the British group Bow Wow Wow as Lieutenant Lush and became quite popular in the role. This caused friction with the group and its lead singer Annabella Lwin. After his tenure with the group he decided to start a band with Craig, then enlisted Moss, and finally Hay. The group recorded demos, which were paid for by EMI Records, but the label was unimpressed and decided not to sign the group. Upstart company Virgin Records signed the group in the UK, and Epic Records signed them in the US as Virgin did not have a US presence at the time. Their first album, 1982's Kissing to Be Clever, saw the release of their first single "White Boy". Although a clever dance song, it failed to rise in the upper reaches of the charts but George was still happy because "5000 people bought my song and didn't even know me". Next single "I'm Afraid of Me" also failed at radio. The release of the third single "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", (a reggae-influenced number which went 'all the way' in the BBC-Charts in late 1982), became a smash international hit, peaking at number one in over a dozen countries (number two in the U.S.). Follow up single "Time (Clock of the Heart)", featuring George's soulful vocals over an R&B groove, became a hit in the U.S. and UK, and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" also became a Top 10 hit in America. The album sold two million copies in the U.S. at its time of release. Unique in his eccentric manner of dress and androgynous look (although many claimed his look and style was borrowed from Pete Burns of Dead or Alive who pre-dated Boy George by a few years), Boy George became a worldwide celebrity and favourite of new music network MTV.

Their second album, 1983's Colour by Numbers also did extremely well, with first single "Church of the Poison Mind", featuring Helen Terry, reaching the U.S. Top 10. Second single "Karma Chameleon" gave the band its second number one hit in the UK and first in the US, and would attain international success and become one of the most played songs of the decade. The album would go on to have additional hits including "Miss Me Blind" (number five U.S.), "It's a Miracle" (number thirteen U.S.), and "Victims" (number three UK). The album sold over four million copies in the U.S. at its time of release, however, trouble was brewing within the Culture Club camp. Unknown to the public, and band members Craig and Hay, George was having an affair with drummer Jon Moss. The affair, which lasted over four years, was often turbulent and the pressure to hide the relationship from the public started to take its toll.

At this time George became addicted to heroin (years later he would state it had nothing to do with his failing relationship with Moss) and the band started to lose its place musically by late 1984. Their next album, 1984's Waking Up With the House on Fire was a disappointment despite charting at No 2, only reaching gold status, unable to obtain the level of success the previous albums had achieved. The album had one major hit single, "The War Song", and the moderate hits "The Medal Song" and "Mistake No. 3"(Which made the US Top 40.). George himself stated that he felt the album floped because he felt the music was "dreadful" and rushed and even said that the only reason they even released it was due to pressure from Virgin and Epic at the time to release a followup quickly to the smash "Colour by Numbers" . but without a major hit album, the band faded somewhat from the public eye over the next two years. The 1986 album From Luxury to Heartache consisted of better musical output (and the hit single "Move Away", number twelve US), but George's and Jon's fights, plus George's addiction to heroin created too much tension for the band to continue. George's subsequent arrest by London police for drug possession also created a frenzy with the US and UK tabloids. George started a solo career and had a moderate hit from the Hiding Out movie soundtrack called "Live My Life", peaking at U.S. number forty, his first Top 40 single without Culture Club. George would eventually let go of his addiction and continue to score several European hits and finally hit the U.S. Top 20 with the title song from another soundtrack, 1992's "The Crying Game".

In 1998, the band put their issues aside and decided to do a reunion tour. Kicked off with a performance on VH1 Storytellers, the tour was a major success. Shortly after, Culture Club recorded a new album titled Don't Mind If I Do. Though never released in the U.S., the first single, "I Just Wanna Be Loved" (UK number four), was featured on a compilation based around the Storytellers performance.

The band went on to tour for a few more years, then reunited for a 20th anniversary concert in 2002 at the Royal Albert Hall, which was released on DVD the following year. Culture Club then became inactive again, largely due to Boy George's concentration on his successful career as a DJ.

George has asserted in his book "Take It Like A Man" that the songs he wrote while in Culture Club were all heart felt messages to Moss, who at the time was not openly gay, as Moss was also dating women. Moss declined to let the relationship between him and George become public and George's song lyrics represented the pain George was feeling: ("Do you really want to hurt me?"); Time (Clock Of The Heart)- ("This could be the best place yet but you must overcome your fears..."); Victims- ("We love and we never tell...)". All band members, including Moss, had no idea George was writing about the relationship.

As of late August, 2006, the remaining members of Culture Club (Craig, Hay, Moss, and Phil Pickett who contributed to the band's album "Colour by Numbers", "Waking Up with the House on Fire." and "From Luxury to Heartache," ) will perform with another lead singer. During the year, the band's record company (Virgin) placed an ad for a lead singer to "...take part in a 2007 World Tour and TV Series." The new singer, who is only identified as "Sam", was selected because of his own personality, "not a Boy George lookalike."

Music videos

  • Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
  • I'll Tumble 4 Ya
  • Church of the Poisoned Mind
  • Karma Chameleon
  • Time (Clock of the Heart)
  • It's a Miracle


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