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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Boy George in the spotlight
Boy George
George has never been far from the spotlight
Musician Boy George is one of the most flamboyant and enduring personalities of British music over the last two decades.

A chart-topper with Culture Club in the 1980s, he managed to reinvent himself as a solo artist, respected club DJ and more recently as the writer of autobiographical musical Taboo.

When George, real name George O'Dowd, first burst on to the mainstream stage in the 1980s, his androgyny, sense of dress and style marked him out in the British press.


"After we went to number one everything changed," he told The Face magazine in 1998. "Everybody recognised me. Before, people would laugh at me, as a figure of fascination, or amusement, or pity, and now fame gave me a licence to be outrageous."

Culture Club
Culture Club were one of the biggest bands of the 1980s

Culture Club's high point came when their single Karma Chameleon topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Teenagers the world over were left to wonder what the lyrics meant, but loved the song nonetheless.

But there was more going on than Boy George was prepared to admit.

He did not publicly say he was gay, but drug use resulted in him being exposed by the British tabloids as a heroin addict in 1987 and he had an on-off affair with drummer Jon Moss.

"I was an open, flamboyant, screaming homosexual, and then I'd have to switch that off for public engagements. I couldn't say that Jon and I loved each other, and that can only make life more twisted."


The tabloids also broke the news that a visiting New York keyboard player, Michael Rudetski, died of a heroin overdose while staying at George's London home.

He was arrested for possessing cannabis in July 1986 and the drug addiction and internal feuding led to the band falling apart.

The rows which led to the destruction of Culture Club were laid bare in George's autobiography, Take It Like A Man - especially regarding his relationship with Moss.

George went into rehab and discovered Buddhism and house music - which would later give him a lucrative, more stable career in the music business as a DJ.

Boy George
Boy George reinvented himself as DJ in the 1980s

In 1987, he had a solo hit with Everything I Own and kept releasing solo albums, but his success at home and in America did not match what he enjoyed with Culture Club.

But his career was revived in the second half of the 1990s as he began DJing at the house clubs that he had began visiting in the late 1980s.

He soon established himself as a talented DJ in his own right - rather than just a novelty act - and became one of the best-known names on the nightclub circuit.

When an offer came in to reform Culture Club in 1998, he did not refuse.

The band toured the world once more, spending two-and-a-half years performing together.

In recent years he felt his way back into the media spotlight, appearing on television discussion shows arguing against Section 28 - the law introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government stopping local authorities "promoting" homosexuality - which was repealed in 2003.

His also visited Bosnia in 2001 to DJ as part of a rebuilding process for the then war-torn country.

"It sounds a bit na´ve in the UK to talk about dance music changing things," he said at the time. "But there's something about it that really brings people together, that's why we were so happy to give them the show."

In 2002 a musical based on his rise to fame opened in London.

Dealing honestly and sometimes painfully with his involvement in drugs and battles against homophobia it was a modest hit and transferred to Broadway, New York, in 2004 where it was championed by Rosie O'Donnell.

But the show closed less than three months after it opened after mainly negative reviews.

Boy George on US cocaine charge
08 Oct 05 |  Americas
Still mad about the Boy
17 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Boy George set for Bosnia gig
06 Apr 01 |  Entertainment
Culture Club hunt for new deal
24 Jan 01 |  Entertainment
Souter and Boy George clash
11 May 00 |  Scotland
Boy George survives falling glitter ball
16 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
More Karma from Boy George
01 Nov 99 |  Entertainment

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