Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14: George Alan O'Dowd - AKA- Boy George of Culture Club - is 52-years-old today.

George Alan O'Dowd was born in Bexley, Kent, UK on 14 June 1961. When he was a teen, 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 who was the former manager of the Sex Pistols, who arranged for George to perform with the group Bow Wow Wow, featuring Annabella Lwin. Boy George's - then going by the name "Lieutenant Lush" - tenure with Bow Wow Wow was a disaster and he was booed off the stage and dropped from the group.

He then started his own group with bassist Mikey Craig, followed by drummer Jon Moss and 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 for EMI Records who passed on signing 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, 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. 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 UK, where it spent six weeks at #1.

"Miss Me Blind" and "It's a Miracle" were Top 5 and Top 20 hits respectively in the US, and "Victims" was another Top 5 UK hit. 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 band's third album Waking Up with the House on Fire featured the hit single "The War Song." By 1985, George had developed a heroin addiction. Still, despite friction within the group, they released their fourth album, From Luxury To Heartache. George was arrested in Britain for possession of cannabis, and shortly fter, keyboardist Michael Rudetsky, who co-wrote the song "Sexuality" was found dead of a heroin overdose in George's London home.

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. 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," "Keep Me In Mind," "To be Reborn" and the title song, "Sold." After recording a few more hits, 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. 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.


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