(Apologies, this is all in bold type and italics and I cannot change it, for some reason.)
In 1982, I was 30 years old. I watched the pop programme, ‘Top Of The Pops’ on TV, and was surprised to see the band Culture Club performing. Surprised, because what I thought to be a female vocalist, was in fact an androgynous young man. He was called George O’Dowd, and went by the stage name of Boy George. They were performing their smash hit single, ‘Do You Really want To Hurt Me’, a song with a gentle Reggae vibe that had taken the charts by storm. This image caught the imagination of the public at the time, and what followed was a media circus, and a detailed examination of the band, and their roots. Many fans emulated Boy George’s unique style, and the band seemed to be destined for success.
And they were.
George was undeniably attractive, to both women and men, and his Japanese/African mix of dress and hairstyle set him apart from anyone else around at the time. Not only that, he could sing, and the band had a wide appeal, mixing musical genres at whim, and catering to a market that they had virtually created in a flash. Watching them for less that ten minutes, everyone who saw them just knew that they would be huge. The hits followed at a pace; ‘Time’, ‘Church of the Poisoned Mind’, ‘Karma Chameleon’, and ‘It’s A Miracle.’ It seemed that they could do no wrong.
They dominated the UK charts, and also had massive success in America. But as with many successful groups, there were problems within. George and John Moss, the drummer, had been lovers, and Moss having decided to embark on a heterosexual relationship caused emotional problems for George, who was also using drugs heavily at the time. Helen Terry, the group’s distinctive backing singer, was also looking to spread her wings, with an abortive solo career, and songwriting for other artists. By 1986, the band began to disintegrate, with Boy George choosing a solo career, despite his addiction to drugs dooming that from the outset.
Over the years since that split, they have re-formed many times, and as recently as 2014, were performing again. Boy George overcame his drug addiction, but continues to lead a very public life. He is recently back on TV screens here, as a judge in the talent show, ‘The Voice.’ During the media frenzy, and the detailed investigations into the lives and loves of the individuals, their musical talents and success seem to have been forgotten. What endures, is that the band can play, and Boy George can sing. And sing very well too. As an example of this, I offer my favourite song from their long collaboration. George’s vocals are near-perfect, and the piano from Roy Hay is flawless.
This is the original promotional video.