As Culture Club absolution Life, their aboriginal anthology in about 20 years, it’s a phenomenon (no pun intended) that the groundbreaking new beachcomber band’s acclaimed frontman, Boy George, is still animate — let abandoned healthy, touring, and authoritative new music. The gender-bending accompanist battled addiction to heroin and added substances for added than two decades — a attack that complex his own assorted drug-related arrests, the afterlife of Culture Club co-writer Michael Rudetsky (who overdosed at George’s London home), and assorted added U.K. abridged scandals. But now, George is adequate a career resurgence, which he abundantly credits to his Buddhist practice.
“I got abstaining in 2008. March the 2nd, 2008. I apperceive the date exactly. I consistently anticipate of that day as ‘the day that I became sane,’” George (full name: George O’Dowd) told Yahoo Entertainment in 2015, at the alpha of Culture Club’s improvement tour. “I planned to be sane at 40, but it took seven added years of analysis for me to ability a point area I was like, ‘OK, this is not working.’”
Boy George arrives at New York City Bent Court in 2006 afterwards actuality answerable with fourth-degree bent control of a controlled substance, cocaine. (Photo: Jemal Countess/WireImage)
“In recovery, we allocution about bedrock bottoms, you know? And everybody has their own bedrock bottom,” George elaborated. “Some people, it could article absolutely mundane. For me, it was absolutely aloof one morning, alive up, and aloof accepting this affectionate of cutting activity that I was really, absolutely unhappy, and I bare to do article about it. I bethink one of the things I said to myself was ‘If you’re activity to be Boy George, you ability as able-bodied try and be the best Boy George you can be.’ I accept to say that things accept got added bigger and bigger and bigger the best I’ve been sober.”
George explained that the incredible, exhilarant acclaim he accomplished in his aboriginal 20s during Culture Club’s MTV heyday — to put it in perspective, he had his own Snoopy doll — contributed to his addiction and brainy bloom issues. “The botheration with the affectionate of acclaim that I accomplished in the aboriginal allotment of my activity was so extreme. It’s absurd to alike explain what that was like. I wasn’t accessible for it,” he said. “It additionally absent from what I was accomplishing musically. I was so active actuality ‘Boy George’ that I chock-full actuality an artist. And so in the last, I’d say, bristles years, I’ve absolutely focused abundant added on what I’m accomplishing creatively.”
Culture Club in 1983, clockwise from top left: Boy George, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig, and Jon Moss. (Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images)
George admits that aback Culture Club were aboriginal advancing calm and he was a “Blitz Kid” in London’s beginning New Adventurous arena and causing a awareness with his agrarian clubbing outfits, he acquainted invincible. “When you’re 19, you accept this astonishing activity that you accept the actual appropriate to be who you appetite to be. I attending aback at myself at 19 and think, ‘I would never do what I did again now!’ I was so brazen, so confident, so fearless, in a way,” he said. “And remember, the apple was a actual advancing abode then. Bodies would bite you [for attractive different]. Bodies would airing up to you and bite you in the face. And that happened absolutely a lot to me, but it didn’t stop me absent to dress up. It fabricated me appetite to dress up more. Bizarre. It’s the Irish in me, I think! It’s a boyish thing. You aloof think, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. Of advance this is what I should attending like!’”
Boy George in New Adventurous accoutrements in 1980. (Photo: Virginia Turbett/Redferns)
George realizes that his androgynous, baroque appearance faculty fabricated him a pioneer, although he consistently gives acclaim to the antecedents that came afore him. “I consistently feel like change is like a daisy chain. Bodies that fabricated my activity easier: Bowie, Quentin Crisp, Oscar Wilde, and apparently hundreds of bodies that we don’t alike apperceive about. Sylvester, Klaus Nomi — I mean, it goes on and on and on. But there are bodies that get the glory. Maybe I was one of the bodies that got the glory,” he mused.
Now, George is captivated by “the actuality that Sam Smith can complete gay and no one goes on about it; it’s like, ‘OK, next!’” And while George has complete with age — “I’ve spent 30 years angry soldiers and tanks and policemen, and it doesn’t work; it aloof makes activity a nightmare” — he said, “I still appetite to change the world. Absolutely. I feel like in a funny array of way, what we did aback again was allotment of that.”
Boy George in 1982. (Photo: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)
And that brings up to the new album. Afterwards an aborted attack at recording the alliance LP Tribes in 2015 (a BBC documentary, Boy George and Culture Club: Karma to Calamity, abundant that adverse experience, and the bandage alike refunded PledgeMusic admirers who had preordered the album), Culture Club are assuredly accessible to absolution a reworked version, retitled Life. Aback at the time of the album’s making, George agilely declared its complete as “very Culture Club” and alike said one song, the Johnny Cash-inspired “Runaway Train,” was “like ‘Karma Chameleon,’ but way cooler.”
Another track, “Different Man,” was accounting about one of George’s adverse idols, Sly Stone, to whom he can understandably relate. “I apprehend in a abundant account with Sly Stone area he said, ‘I accept abounding regrets, but I can’t anticipate of one appropriate now.’ I ambition I had the aplomb to say article like that. But I additionally apprehend about how he’d been active in his car, so the song absolutely starts with the bandage ‘He was active in his car on the ancillary of the road’ because he’s one of my heroes,” George said. “It’s so bonkers aback you apprehend being like that. You think, ‘My God, how?’ There but for the adroitness of God, as we say in recovery.”
As for the astriction surrounding the recording of Tribes/Life with Culture Club bandmates Jon Moss (with whom George says he had a abiding adventurous accord in the 1980s), Roy Hay, and Mikey Craig, George aloof shrugged and chuckled. “There’s animosity, there’s love, there’s indifference, there’s passion. I mean, we’re animal beings. … Bands are like families. You alpha talking about Jon, who’s your mad, eccentric, Jewish uncle who talks 10 the dozen and pushes your ons. It’s what a bandage is. A band’s like a mad ancestors that you didn’t choose. The added affair is that animal beings are abundantly resilient. We’re aloof like, ‘Oh yeah. I bethink aback I’d action with you, but whatever. Who cares? What’s important now?’ Everything is consistently about now.”
Culture Club today. (Photo: Facebook)
Listening to the new album, Culture Club admirers may apprehension a change in George’s articulation over the years — it’s abundant gruffer and huskier, and it bluntly has beneath ambit — but George said: “You adapt. I mean, I’m a baritone, you know? I don’t accept a falsetto like I acclimated to aback I was younger, but then, I can do a lot of things now that I couldn’t do then. I feel, in a way, as a singer, abundant added adequate with my voice. I don’t feel afraid about it. It’s one of those things. The affidavit is in the pudding.”
With 10 years of abnegation of abaft him and new music advanced of him, George, at 57, assuredly seems at accord with his afflicted past. “I’m actual grateful,” he said. “Getting old is a luxury. Some bodies don’t [have that luxury]. I’ve absent a lot of friends, for assorted reasons, in my life. Actuality earlier is such a admirable privilege. Use it well.”
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