Boy George got to know Malcolm McLaren, who was managing the group Bow Wow Wow. McLaren cooked up a plan to have George join the band, either as a replacement for their lead singer Annabella Lwin or as an additional singer. He was going to perform as Lieutenant Lush. The plan fell through, and George ended up forming his own band, which became Culture Club.
The band wrote their songs together and shared the royalties, with Boy George writing the lyrics. Jon Moss handled many of the business affairs, and Boy George did most of the publicity. Since George was so prominent as the face of the group, it sometimes gave the impression that he was the leader, but the band shared equally in decisions and songwriting.
Culture Club was one of the first British bands to make a huge impact in America thanks to MTV. The channel launched in 1981, and in 1982 they put "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?
" in heavy rotation, which was their first single in the States and introduced America to the very unusual Boy George. They toured America in 1983 and scored two more hits from the album. Their next album included the #1 "Karma Chameleon
," and they ended up with 10 Top-40 hits in the United States.
Boy George was known for his very feminine look and soft singing voice, although his speaking voice is surprisingly gruff. He dressed in women's clothes and wore makeup in his school days, and accentuated the look to publicize the band. Considering the Glam and Punk looks that were popular just a few years earlier in England, it wasn't so shocking in his home country, but in America it got a lot of attention, with many viewers wondering about his true gender.
They were the first British band since The Beatles to score three Top 10 US hits from their debut album.
The band first got together when Boy George joined Jon Moss and Mikey Craig in a group called In Praise of Lemmings. George made them change the name.
Boy George said in 1983: "I think people think of me as very feminine, but I'm very masculine. I can throw a good punch. I'm taller and bigger than people expect me to be; I'm sure they expect a little fairy wearing dandelions."
George got kicked out of school when he was 15. He worked as a model and a makeup artist before starting his music career.
In 1983, Boy George came in second place in both the male and female "best dressed" categories in New Musical Express reader's poll.
Boy George once had a job as a bagger in his local supermarket. The gig didn't work out, as the future Culture Club singer was fired - for wearing the bags.
Their producer, Steve Levine, had a lot to do with their success. Levine was a studio wizard who introduced them to the latest innovations, including the Linn LM-1 drum machine, which he combined with Jon Moss' live drums to create distinctive rhythms. Boy George credits this forward-leaning sound for getting them a record deal. "The general consensus was that I was a drag queen, not palatable for the pop market," he told Music Week. "Steve saw through that, he saw a much bigger picture."