Culture Club was the first band since the Beatles to have three Top 10 U.S. hits from a debut LP.
There is no doubt that when one thinks of music from the 1980s,one of the most recognizable and famous faces from that era is the iconic Boy George, lead singer of the monstrously famous U.K. pop band Culture Club. Formed in 1982 in London, the band has always consisted of its four main parts: Boy George on vocals, Roy Hay on guitar, Mikey Craig on bass, and Jon Moss on drums.
From their first release Kissing to Be Clever, it was apparent the reggae-infused synth band had a style all their own. Yet it was the outrageous gender-bending look sported by their colorful vocalist that first garnered them attention. With long braids, tons of eye shadow, and a slight attitude, Boy George was hard to miss. His pleasing, soulful tenor voice came across beautifully over the car radio, and after the first two singles from the LP failed to chart, their third one was, indeed, a charm. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” went straight to the top of the charts and into the hearts of music fans worldwide. The first of what would be a whirlwind of hit songs, this track not only opened the doors for the band, it sparked a controversy. Who was this painted Boy? More importantly, what was our obsession with him?
By the time the band released their second album, they were everywhere. Colour by Numbers hit the unsuspecting public like a massive storm. With several Top 10 hits, the album ended up selling over 10 million albums in the U.S. and over 50 million worldwide. There was no denying their musical force. Tunes like “Church of the Poison Mind,” “Miss Me Blind,” “It’s a Miracle,” and the contagious “Karma Chameleon” climbed the charts all over the world. The band would end up with 11 international hits, with 10 of their singles reaching the U.S Top 40.In 1984, the band won the Grammy for Best New Artist. In their home country of Britian, they would enjoy 12 Top 40 hits between 1982 and 1999.
With the rise must come the fall. The hurried release of their third LP, Waking Up with the House on Fire, showed that the band was slowly falling apart. With a hidden romantic relationship between Boy George and drummer Jon Moss also crumbling, fistfights between the two of them made for cancelled shows due to injuries. Yet the band had already accomplished so much in a short amount of time
Culture Club broke many a record. They were the first band in musical history to have an album certified Diamond in Canada, which denotes one million in sales. They were also the first band since the Beatles to have three Top 10 U.S. hits from a debut LP. They also sported the best-selling single of 1983 with “Karma Chameleon,” selling 1.5 million copies across the world. With this kind of success, it seemed the band would be around for a while. But with music trends changing and the crunch of heavy metal taking over the airwaves and the record-buying public, the band suffered. “The War Song,” the first single from their third effort, was a hit, but it would be the last. Slowly, the band waned in popularity and sales went down.1986’s From Luxury to Heartache gave the band their last Top 20 hit with “Move Away”. By this time, the relationship between The Boy and Moss was dead, and the taste of heroin and cocaine addiction hit the charismatic front man. After releasing their final effort, Don’t Mind If I Do, in the U.K. only, the band parted ways.
The years that followed found a drug-addled George in a media frenzy, yet his creative side was still ablaze. He recorded and released a series of solo albums, starting with the soulful Sold. He hit the charts again with the theme song to the film The Crying Game, and also became a skilled disc jockey, complete with a tour of U.S. nightclubs.
After finding sobriety, the band had a short-lived reunion in the late 1990s, with only a brief East Coast tour. But Culture Club was not done. Their star had dimmed, but not vanished. Public interest in everything 1980s was coming back in vogue, especially music. Now, with five albums under their belt, and a new one to be released (at press time, set to be called Tribes), it was time to take all those classic hits and hit the road.
With a sizzling show, complete with horn section and backing vocalists, Culture Club are showing us once again what made them famous. At age 55, Boy George sounds just as soulful now as he ever did, and the songs are just as pleasing and relevant as ever. This is a band whose members give their all to the audience. Never once did any member of Culture Club attempt to take another version of the band on the road. And, while the current (and original) lineup does not include longtime backing vocalist Helen Terry, you can be sure of a great time. If you are feeling nostalgic, or are simply a fan of Culture Club old or new, don’t miss this tour. | Marc Farr
Culture Club plays the Family Arena in St. Louis July 20. Tickets available from Metrotix and the Culture Club website. Full Americas tour dates are below.
06.29 | Auditorio Telmex Guadalajara MEX
07.01 | Arena México, Mexico City
07.02 | Bajamar Ocean Front, Ensenada MEX
07.05 | Hard Rock Live, Orlando
07.06 | The Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg
07.08 | Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale
07.09 | Morocco Shrine Auditorium, Jacksonville
07.12 | The Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ
07.13 | The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn
07.16 | The Shoe at Horseshoe Cincinnati
07.17 | Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, Rochester MI
07.19 | Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Atlanta
07.20 | The Family Arena, St. Louis
07.22 | Chicago Theatre, Chicago
07.23 | Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee
07.24 | Myth, St. Paul MN
07.26 | Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville
07.27 | Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City
07.28 | The Joint @ Hard Rock Casino, Tulsa
07.30 | IP Casino, Resort & Spa, Biloxi MS
08.02 | Statesman Skyline Theater at the Long Center, Austin
08.03-04 | H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center, San Antonio
08.05 | Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie TX
08.07 | Paramount Theatre, Denver
08.08 | Red Butte Garden, Salt Lake City
08.11 | Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville WA
08.12 | Northern Quest Casino, Airway Heights WA
08.13 | McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater, Troutdale OR
08.15 | The Mountain Winery, Saratoga CA
08.16 | Warfield Theatre, San Francisco
08.17 | Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara CA
08.19 | Outdoor Amphitheater at Thunder Valley, Lincoln CA
08.20 | Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles CA
08.21 | Pearl Concert Theater, Las Vegas
08.23 | Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
08.24 | Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay, San Diego
08.26-27 | Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
08.28 | P.N.E. Amphitheatre, Vancouver BC
09.02 | New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse
09.03 | Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Niagara Falls NY
09.08 | The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn
09.09 | Electric Factory, Philadelphia