Culture Club

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Culture Club
Culture Club, 2016
Culture Club, 2016
General information
Genre (s) Pop , rock , lovers rock
founding 1981, 1998, 2014
resolution 1986, 2002
Founding members
Boy George
Roy Hay
Mikey Craig
Jon Moss
former members
John Suede (1981)

Culture Club is a British pop band that had their greatest successes in the 1980s. The band caused a sensation not only with their music, but also with the shrill, emphatically feminine clothing style of their front man Boy George .

Band history

Boy George performing at the Culture Club New Year's Eve 2011 in Sydney, Australia

In 1981 Boy George became the lead singer of the band Bow Wow Wow . A short time later, however, he was dismissed by Malcolm McLaren , the manager of the band. As a reason, McLaren stated that Boy George's feminine clothing style did not suit the band. Boy George continued to appear as a DJ in various discos . One day the bassist Mikey Craig (born February 15, 1960 in London ) happened to read a newspaper article about Boy George. Since Craig had been thinking about starting his own band for a long time, he went to Boy George. He agreed and a little later started working with Craig by writing his first songs with him.

In March 1981, the two bumped into drummer Jon Moss, who was an acquaintance of Boy George's then boyfriend Kirk Brandon. Brandon arranged the contact. Moss already had some experience in the music business, having played with bands like The Clash , Adam & The Ants and The Damned . Experience that Boy George and Mikey Craig still lacked. After meeting them for the first time, Moss decided to join the band.

After that, the band also found a guitarist : John Suede. But he soon had to leave the band because Moss was not convinced of his guitar skills. After many guitarists came to audition, the decision was made for Roy Hay, who was previously guitarist for the band Russian Bouquet.

Now the band just needed a suitable name. Boy George's friend Andi Sexgang suggested the name Sex Gang Children . In the beginning the band actually called themselves that, but Jon Moss was in favor of looking for another name. Andi Sexgang used the name from then on for his own band. Boy George's group briefly renamed themselves Praise of Lemmings and then switched to Culture Club ( Kulturklub ). The name is intended to express that all people belong to one race: the human race.

Culture Club sent a demo recording to the record label EMI Music , but received a rejection. A little later, the group got a record deal with Virgin Records . In the USA they later signed an extra contract with Epic Records , as Virgin was not yet active on the US market at the time.

1982: first successes

The debut single White Boy missed the charts, as did the successor Im Afraid of Me . The debut album Kissing to Be Clever was initially released without great expectations in the summer of 1982. The sudden change came with the third single Do You Really Want to Hurt Me , which was in record stores in September 1982 and was presented at the Peter and Paul session on Radio 1 . The song climbed to number 1 on the British charts and stayed there for three weeks. An appearance on the most important TV show for music and pop culture at the time , Top of the Pops , helped the quartet to achieve their final breakthrough and national fame.

Above all, the androgynous boy George, dressed in an extravagant robe and with colorful make-up , fascinated the audience and kept the media busy with wild speculations about his real gender.

The “Culture Club wave” finally spilled over to mainland Europe. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me became an international top hit (number 1 in 23 countries, including Germany) and also helped her debut album to top positions in the hit lists and sales in the millions. Teenage gazettes, music journals and above all the headline-hungry daily press gave Culture Club the nimbus of a "pop group that counts" ( Rolling Stone ) and ultimately aroused the interest of the US music press.

1983: Breakthrough in the USA and Boy George's role as a front man

The American record market is considered a world leader. Foreign pop artists often found it difficult to gain a foothold here and to place albums and singles in the hit lists. When Culture Club first traveled to the United States in December 1982, a change was slowly emerging that the US press referred to as the “Second British Invasion ”. British pop groups such as Duran Duran , Eurythmics or Spandau Ballet cracked the US charts and attracted the interest of the audience.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me reached # 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1983 . As in Europe, Boy George was the focus of the media and record buyers from the start. Appearances, for example on the high-ratings late night show by Jay Leno or on Joan Rivers , numerous photos and covers of the most important international music and tabloid magazines helped George achieve a status as one of the greatest new pop idols of the early 1980s, during Moss, Ray and Craig often took a back seat and received little or no attention. "Without me and Princess Diana, the rainbow press would be in a fix," Boy George said in a 1985 interview with Playboy . The magazine itself described him as the "(...) king or queen of pop music" and the Rock & Pop Chronicle in retrospect as "currently the greatest media darling".

Their fourth single, Time , easily followed on from the sales figures of their predecessor and also reached number 2 on the US charts. A hastily set up world tour turned out to be a success and presented Culture Club for the first time as an excellent live band. Similar to The Beatles in the 1960s, the band triggered a hysterical fan rush from the, predominantly female, audience. “The devil was going on inside” and “Dozens of girls fell over with enthusiasm” wrote the Bravo about Culture Club's performance in the Hamburg music hall.

1983: high point of success

Church of the Poison Mind , another top ten success in both England and the US, gave a foretaste of the following album and turned out to be significantly more rocky than Culture Club's previous singles. Color by Numbers , produced by Steve Levine and released in October 1983, delighted audiences and music critics together. For the first time, the band as a whole was in the focus of the music press. The critic Diedrich Diederichsen declared Color by Numbers the best pop album of 1983, and in Canada the record was awarded 10 times platinum - a record that no other pop band has achieved to date.

The single Karma Chameleon , released in September 1983, exceeded all expectations. The song, one of the best-selling singles of the 1980s, reached number 1 on the UK charts and stayed there for six weeks. In February 1984, Karma Chameleon finally climbed to number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and drove the culture club hype soaring . In the same year the song received the Brit Award for best British single and Culture Club a Grammy Award for best new pop group. Miss Me Blind , only released in the US , became her sixth top ten hit in a row there.

Not to be underestimated in the success of Color by Numbers is the vocal commitment of Helen Terry . Already used as a background singer for Do You Really Want to Hurt Me , Michael Jackson's “best soul singer since Aretha Franklin ” shone alongside Boy George and was also indispensable live for Culture Club.

Boy George and Jon Moss

From the beginning, Boy George and Jon Moss had a secret but never denied homosexual relationship. "It is rumored in London that Boy George and Jon Moss are more than just good friends," wrote Bravo in 1983. Appearances and press conferences fluctuated with the ups and downs of the relationship between the two pop stars. The photographer Didi Zill , who accompanied Culture Club for a while, describes in his photo book Boy George & Culture Club a tangible argument before the recording of the TV show Caution, Music in Munich. Moss injured his hand and had to be replaced during the performance by Rolf Brendel , Nena's drummer . The end of Moss and Boy George's relationship greatly contributed to the later breakup of Culture Club.

1984–1985: Waning success

The third album from Culture Club was awaited with high hopes. But when Waking Up with the House on Fire was released in November 1984, it disappointed. VH1 described the album as "hasty and half-hearted". Village Voice concluded , "They wallowed in our affection so much that they forgot to write good songs." The War Song had already disappointed with medium chart successes and sales figures. Years later, Boy George described The War Song as one of the worst records of all time in an interview with Musikexpress .

Like the album, Boy George's constant fashionable escapades met with rejection. While the young audience in particular had grown fond of George's androgynous look with dreadlocks, hats and brightly colored make-up, he shocked his picky and pubescent fans with fiery red perms, funky robes and overloaded costume jewelry. In addition, Boy George had to struggle with severe weight fluctuations. "Boy on the eating trip" and "Boy George shocks again!" Was the headline of Bravo in 1985.

Culture Club suddenly became unpopular. "The only ones who are interested in Culture Club now are middle-aged women," said British pop singer Paul Rutherford in an interview with Jamming! .

The Medal Song was released as a second single in Europe, or Mistake No. 3 in the US. From a commercial point of view, the two singles fell short of expectations.

Culture Club took a longer break before the fourth album From Luxury to Heartache was released in the spring of 1986 . Musically clearly better than its predecessor, it undercut the sales of Waking Up with the House on Fire again. The first single Move Away was a small hit, but no longer comparable to their old successes. God Thank You Woman was the second single in Europe and didn't get that much resonance there. No music video was made for Gusto Blusto , the second single in the US. It's also the only Culture Club single released in the US that didn't make the Billboard Hot 100.

Boy George (1988)

1986: Unofficial separation

The band split in late 1986 for a variety of reasons:

Boy George was addicted to heroin , but the other band members had drug problems too. Jon Moss and Boy George's love affair broke up. The other band members complained that they were in Boy George's shadow. The band felt exhausted from the many concerts and television appearances. In the spring of 1987, the hit compilation This Time - The First Four Years was released as the last album .

An official separation was never announced. From now on everyone went their own way.

In 1989 they got together again to record a new album. During this meeting the songs I Just Wanna Be Loved and After the Love were written . But then there was an argument between Boy George and Jon Moss. The recordings were then canceled. Boy George recorded After the Love with his other band, Jesus Loves You .

1998: Reunion

It wasn't until 1998 that the idea of ​​a reunion was taken up again. Boy George first wanted Moss to be gone, but eventually made up with him. Culture Club went on tour and released I Just Wanna Be Loved as a single. She made it into the top 10 of the UK singles chart . In autumn 1999 the new album Don't Mind If I Do and two singles from this album were released. Culture Club broke up again in 2002 because Boy George wanted to concentrate on his career as a DJ.

Mikey Craig and Jon Moss wanted to revive Culture Club in 2006, but Roy Hay and Boy George turned them down. Since Boy George was something of a key figure in Culture Club, a replacement had to be found. So Virgin Records put an ad looking for a new singer for Culture Club. Moss and Craig chose Sam Butcher, who dresses and makes up similar to Boy George, but still “has his own personality”, as the two emphasized. Boy George described Butcher as "awful".

2014: Reunification

In mid-2014, Boy George announced a comeback for Culture Club with its original line-up via Facebook and other social media , with a first appearance on July 19, 2014 during the BBC - Live at Edinburgh Castle as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

2015: Tour, new studio album

On July 2, 2015, Culture Club performed at a special edition of the American Today Show's summer concert series , where they presented three of their old songs with their original line-up. This was also the start of their tour, which begins on July 25th in Berkeley (USA) and includes over 20 concerts through America and Great Britain. The band also announced that they are in the studio and after 15 years working on new songs for their sixth album. In July 2018, the pre-release single for the album, "Let Somebody Love You", was released. The album was announced for October. At the same time the band went on tour until December, now under the name “Boy George & Culture Club”.


Studio albums

year title Top ranking, total weeks / months, awardChart placementsChart placementsTemplate: chart table / maintenance / monthly data
(Year, title, rankings, weeks / months, awards, notes)
1982 Kissing to Be Clever DE8 (24 weeks)
AT6 (2 months)
- UK5

(59 weeks)UK

(88 weeks)US
First published: October 4, 1982
1983 Color by Numbers DE6 (20 weeks)
AT17 (2½ months)
CH4 (15 weeks)
Triple platinum
× 3
Triple platinum

(56 weeks)UK
Quadruple platinum
× 4
Quadruple platinum

(59 weeks)US
First published: October 10, 1983
1984 Waking Up with the House on Fire DE22 (11 weeks)
- CH21 (3 weeks)

(13 weeks)UK

(20 weeks)US
First published: October 25, 1984
1986 From Luxury to Heartache DE45 (6 weeks)
- CH24 (3 weeks)

(6 weeks)UK
US32 (17 weeks)
First published: March 31, 1986
1999 Don't Mind If I Do - - - UK64 (1 week)
First published: November 22, 1999
2018 Life DE58 (1 week)
- CH89 (1 week)
UK12 (4 weeks)
First published: October 26, 2018

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year


  • Bravo Otto
    • 1983: in the category "Band" (bronze)
  • Rockbjörnen
    • 1983: in the category "Foreign album of the year"
  • Ivor Novello Award
    • 1984: in the category: “Best Pop Song” and “Best Selling A-Side” - Karma Chameleon
  • Brit Awards
    • 1984: in the “Best Selling Single” category - Karma Chameleon
    • 1984: in the "Best British Group" category
  • ASCAP Award
    • 1984: For Time (Clock of the Heart) - most preformed songs of the 1983 Survey Year
  • grammy
    • 1984: in the "New Artist" category
  • Variety Club Awards
    • 1985: in the category: "Recording Artist of 1984"
  • Q Award
    • 2006: in the category "Q Classic Song Award"
    • 2014: in the "Q Idol" category


  • The War Song is available in five languages: English, German ( Der Kriegsgesang ), Spanish ( La canción de guerra ), French ( La chanson de guerre ) and Japanese ( Senso hant ai ).
  • Boy George's sister Siobhan O'Dowd has a guest appearance as Boy George double in the music video for Church of the Poison Mind .
  • Culture Club has a guest appearance in the action series The A-Team (episode title: "Cowboy George"). They play the songs God Thank You Woman , Move Away and Karma Chameleon .
  • The Medal Song is dedicated to the actress Frances Farmer .


  • David, Maria: Boy George and Culture Club . Crescent, Southampton 1984, ISBN 0-517-45474-2 (English).
  • De Graaf, Kasper and Garrett, Malcolm: Culture Club: When Cameras Go Crazy . St. Martin's Press, London & New York 1983, ISBN 0-312-17879-4 (English).
  • Rimmer, David: Like Punk Never Happened: Culture Club and the New Pop . Faber & Faber, London 1986, ISBN 0-571-13739-3 (English).
  • Robins, Wayne: Culture Club . Ballantine Books, New York 1984, ISBN 0-345-32216-9 (English).
  • Crampton, Luke and Rees, Dafydd: Rock & Pop The Chronicle 1950-Today . DK, ISBN 3-8310-0535-4 .
  • Zill, Didi: Boy George and Culture Club . Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, ISBN 3-89602-493-0 .
  • Rimmer, David: Like Punk Never Happened . Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-13739-3 (English).
  • Graves, Schmidt-Joos and Halbscheffel: The New Rock Lexicon 1 . rororo, ISBN 3-499-16352-7 .
  • Bravo Magazine 1983–1986, Musikexpress No. 514, Playboy Magazine May 1985.


  1. BBC News: Boy George slams new club singer (English)
  2. ^ New record from Culture Club. Retrieved August 1, 2018 .
  3. Chart sources: Singles Albums UK US

Web links