were a pop
and New Romantic
band primarily active in the 1980s
. Boy George
(real name George O'Dowd), an active cross-dresser
in the 1970s
, got his professional start as an early member of Bow Wow Wow
. He then formed In Praise of Lemmings
with Mikey Craig (bass), which became the Sex Gang Children
after the addition of Jon Juede (guitar). After Jon Moss
(drums, of Adam & the Ants
and The Damned
) joined, the group became known as Culture Club. Sude was replaced by Roy Hay (of Russian Bouquet) and recorded some demos for EMI
, but this did not result in a contract. In 1982
, Culture Club signed with Virgin Records
and released two unsuccessful singles before the breakthrough success of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me", a massive British hit. The band's debut LP, Kissing to Be Clever
, was also a hit and, by 1983
, both the album and song were entering the American charts.
Culture Club's popularity greatly expanded with the release of "Karma Chameleon" and Colour by Numbers
. Its follow-up, Waking up with the House on Fire
was relatively unsuccessful in America but still a British hit, reaching #2 there.
During a 1985 break from the band, Boy George became addicted to heroin and his romantic relationship with Moss began to suffer. The band's comeback album, From Luxury to Heartache was a moderate success. In 1986, George announced his addiction and was soon thereafter arrested on charges of possession of cannabis. Michael Rudetski, keyboardist for From Luxury to Heartache died of a heroin overdose in George's home only a few days after his arrest; Rudetski's parents later filed legal action against George.
While fighting his addiction, Culture Club broke up. A sober George launched a solo career in 1992, releasing a few hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Boy George is now a respected dance music DJ.