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Boy George

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b. George O'Dowd, 14 June 1961, Eltham, Kent, England. During the early 80s O'Dowd became a regular on the London 'New Romantic' club scene. His appearances at clubs such as Billy's, Blitz, Heaven and Hell were regularly featured in the pages of magazines such as Blitz and The Face. Flaunting a series of flamboyant cross-dressing styles he caught the attention of pop svengali Malcolm McLaren who enrolled him to appear alongside Bow Wow Wow 's Annabella Lu Win, as Lieutenant Lush, at a concert at London's Rainbow Theatre. This partnership proved short-lived but useful as George's name was pushed further into the spotlight. A meeting with former disc jockey Mikey Craig (b. 15 February 1960, Hammersmith, London, England; bass) resulted in the forming of a band, In Praise Of Lemmings. After the addition of former Adam And The Ants drummer Jon Moss (b. 11 September 1957, Wandsworth, London, England; drums) plus Roy Hay (b. 12 August 1961, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England; guitar, keyboards), the group was renamed Culture Club. To the public, however, Culture Club was, to all intents and purposes, Boy George, and his appetite for publicity and clever manipulation of the media seemed effortless. His barely concealed homosexuality, though no problem to his many fans, caused considerable comment in the tabloid press. Ultimately, however, it was not his sexuality but his involvement with drugs that brought his downfall. A week after he teased journalists with the proclamation that he was 'your favourite junkie' at an anti-apartheid concert in London, the British national press revealed that he was indeed addicted to heroin. No sooner had this episode hit the headlines than another scandal broke. A visiting New York keyboard player, Michael Rudetski, died of a heroin overdose while staying at George's London home. Soon afterwards, George was arrested on a charge of possession of cannabis, resulting in successful treatment for his drug dependence. His public renouncement of drugs coincided with the dissolution of Culture Club and the launch of a solo career. His debut effort, a cover version of the Bread / Ken Boothe hit, 'Everything I Own', in the spring of 1987, gave him his first UK number 1 since 'Karma Chameleon' in 1983. George's outspoken opposition to the Conservative government's anti-homosexual bill, Clause 28, triggered a series of releases damning the bill. He formed his own record label, More Protein, in 1989, and fronted a band, Jesus Loves You, which reflected his new-found spiritual awareness and continuing love of white reggae and soul. Cheapness And Beauty was a blend of punky glam pop, at odds with his perceived 90s image of fading superstar. The songs, co-written with guitarist John Themis, were the result of a more confident Boy George, altogether more comfortable with his publicly gay persona and completely free of heroin addiction. The album was preceded by an unlikely cover version of Iggy Pop 's 'Funtime', while its release date in 1995 coincided with the publication of the artist's self-deprecating autobiography. In 1998 he contributed vocals to a drum 'n' bass version of 'Police And Thieves', released by London dance collective Dubversive.

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