Culture Club—Frequently Asked Questions

I decided to write up a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Culture Club. I am in no way affiliated with Culture Club or their management. All of the information here has been pulled from reliable sources: TV interviews, books and articles. Additions and corrections are welcome. Please email me.

Part I: Culture Club History and Basics

1.Who are the members of Culture Club (hereafter referred to as CC) and what instruments do they play?

The members are Boy George (George Alan O’Dowd {he goes by “George”}, born June 14, 1961), lead singer; Jonathan Aubrey Moss (he goes by “Jon”, b. Sept. 11, 1957), drummer; Michael Emile Craig (he goes by “Mikey”, b. Feb. 15, 1960), bass player; Roy Ernest Hay (b. Aug. 12, 1961) guitarist and keyboardist.

2. When did Culture Club form?

It was early in 1981. George had briefly been in a band called Bow Wow Wow. Malcom McLaren (the manager) kicked him out because he was too effeminate. George’s picture had been in the paper, and a bass player named Mikey Craig noticed it. He saw George DJ-ing and asked him if he wanted to form a band. George agreed.

The pair found Jon Moss in March 1981 through a mutual acquaintance, Kirk Brandon. George phoned Jon and asked him if he was interested in a band. He met George and Mikey for a rehearsal and decided to join. Jon was not impressed with their songs or playing ability, but he thought George had a brilliant voice. All the members of CC now credit Jon for taking charge of the band and getting it off its feet.

The band’s first guitarist was a man named John Suede (AKA Suede). He was not working out; Jon in particular was not impressed with him so he took the initiative to tell him to leave the band.

3. Where is Suede now?

I have no idea. If anyone has any details, email me. Suede appears in some very early photo shoots of CC.

4. Who replaced Suede?

Roy Hay. After firing Suede, CC auditioned many guitarists before they found Roy who fit in right away. Roy said he had heard of George and seen him at some clubs.

5. I saw CC in concert recently and there were a lot more than 4 people on stage.

That’s because they tour with a large group of backing musicians. They are Zee (vocalist), John Themis (guitarist), Richie Stevens (percussionist), a keyboardist, and (for the UK dates) another backing vocalist named Linda Duggan. John Themis has been writing music and performing with George for about 10 years now.

6. Has the band always had such a large supporting group of musicians?

Yes. In the 80’s, they toured with Helen Terry as back up singer, as well as many supporting instrumentalists.

7. Where is Helen Terry now?

She works in the television industry now. She and George had a falling out after he outed her in his autobiography.

8. When did Helen stop her affiliation with CC? Has she released any solo work? What videos has she been in?

She stopped touring with CC in mid-1984 but continued to do backing vocals for them on their albums.

Helen had a string of solo singles, beginning with Love Lies Lost, co-written with George and Roy Hay and also featured on the Electric Dreams soundtrack (Now You're Mine) and the Quicksilver soundtrack (One Sunny Day - a duet with Ray Parker Jr., who sung the song Ghostbusters). She released an album called Blue Notes in 1986, with some tracks co-written with George and Roy again. She also sang backing vocals on Corey Hart's single "It Ain't Enough" in 1989.

You can see her in many CC videos: Church of the Poison Mind, Time (Clock of the Heart), and Victims to name some.

9. How does CC write their songs?

Roy writes most of the instrumentation and is considered to be the “MD” (Musical Director). George pens lyrics and comes up with melodies, and Jon and Mikey handle rhythm.

10. Was CC ever called something else?

When they first formed, they were called Sex Gang Children. They were also called in Praise of Lemmings at some point. Before the band had any real success, Jon and George changed the name to Culture Club.

11. What experience did the members of the group have before joining CC?

Jon had the most experience. He had played with the Clash, the Damned, Adam Ant’s backing group, as well as several other not well known groups.

The others had much less experience. George’s only previous group was Bow Wow Wow which he was in “for about five minutes.” Roy’s only experience seems to be with Russian Bouquet. Mikey had no real long term experience being in a band.

Part II: Break Ups and Reunions

1. When did Culture Club break up?

In 1986, things were pretty much over though they never made any official announcement that they had split up and for many years afterwards, fans hoped for a reunion.

2. Why did they break up?

Many reasons. They included: George’s drug problem (the other members also had fairly serious drug problems), George and Jon’s relationship ending, exhaustion and burn out from constant touring and media attention, jealousy over the unrelenting media focus on George, and all the members of the band (not just George and Jon) having trouble getting along and working together.

3. Did they attempt to re-form prior to 1998?

Yes. In 1989 or 1990, they got together to work on a new album. After not long, George got into a fight with Jon and walked away from the project. George later said he felt the music they were working on was old fashioned and not interesting to him.

An early version of the song I Just Wanna be Loved came out of those sessions. Also, the song After the Love (written by George and Jon) was a result of those sessions and appeared on George’s 1991 solo effort Martyr Mantras.

4. When did they reform again?

In 1997, VH1 did a Behind the Music special on Boy George. They had interviewed all the members of the band and told them that the special would be about CC, not just George. Although of the band only George liked the final product, it did get people talking about the band again. VH1 approached Roy with the idea of reuniting for a tour and VH1 Storytellers CD.

Roy then approached George about a reunion, and George agreed. At first he did not want Jon back in the band, but the next day realized that he did. It was in early 1998 that the band began meeting to discuss a reunion tour.

5. Why did they reform again?

Lots of reasons. George said it was more “why not?” than “why?” He said he wants to make one more studio album as a member of Culture Club. Roy said he is involved in reforming because “we didn’t put this thing to bed properly. It was never finalized; everyone sort of turned and walked away.” (VH1 Behind the Music: Culture Club Reunion). Mikey said he missed playing live gigs, and did not want to start all over again with a new group. Jon said to VH1 that the reformation is like an exorcism. He also greatly enjoys playing live shows. He told the BBC during a documentary that he wanted to be near George again.

6. What have they done since they reunited?

They started with a VH1 documentary (Behind the Music: the Culture Club Reunion), and performance at VH1 Storytellers. A VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments CD was released. They toured the US in the summer of 1998, and also made some TV appearances on Letterman, the Daily Show, Wild in the UK. They returned to Europe and made numerous television appearances in England, France, and Italy. The BBC did an extensive documentary in early 1999 called Young Guns Go For It. They played several shows in the UK in December, and then returned to the US in January of 1999. They released an album of new material in 1999 called "Don't Mind If I Do." They promoted the album in England, making numerous TV appearances and going on tour.

7. Who opened for them on tour?

In the summer of 1998, the opening acts were Howard Jones and the Human League. In the UK, it was Human League and ABC.

8. Have they had recent chart success?

In the UK, their single I Just Wanna Be Loved went to #4, and the Greatest Moments CD went to #15. In the US, they had much less chart success due to an almost total lack of promotion from their record company Virgin. VH1 also failed to regularly play the new video. In 1999, their singles "Your Kisses Are Charity" and "Cold Shoulder" charted, but they didn't make the top 10 due to a lack of airplay

9. How long do they plan to stay together?

Totally unknown. At first, they said the reunion was just for the tour.

Part III: Post-Culture Club

1. What did all the members of the band do after Culture Club split in 1986?

Roy moved to Los Angeles in 1989. He began a band called This Way Up. He has also composed and arranged music for commercials, and worked on both film scores and television scores.

Mikey created his own dance label and produced songs. He said he largely became a family man after the band wound down.

Jon opened a studio in London and produced songs. He was briefly involved in another band called Heartbeat UK.

George released five solo albums (see the Music and Video section), began a successful career as a DJ, writes a regular column for the paper The Express, published an autobiography, and many other things. This autobiography is called Take it Like a Man; hereafter referred to as TILAM. For more details on his post-CC projects, check out any of these great Boy George web pages: 100% Boy, The Devil in Sister George, and Laura Walker’s Boy George Homepage.

You can get lots of details from George’s perspective on every aspect of CC in TILAM. If you need to find a copy, try (If anyone knows a better source to find a copy, please email me.

2. Where can I read the column that George wrote for The Express? Does he still write it?

George is indeed a prolific writer and continues to regularly pen the column. 100% Boy and The Devil in Sister George sites do a great job of keeping up with his column and posting it.

Part IV: Music and Video

1. How many studio albums did CC put out?

Five. They are: Kissing to be Clever (1982), Colour by Numbers (1983), Waking Up with the House on Fire (1984), From Luxury to Heartache (1986), and Don't Mind If I Do (1999.)

2. How many copies of these albums were sold?

Kissing to be Clever sold 5 million worldwide, Colour By Numbers 10 million, Waking Up with the House on Fire 3 million, and From Luxury to Heartache 1 million. I don't have statistics on Don't Mind If I Do.

3. Which songs were singles? And what are the chart positions of those songs?

You can get this information at Adrian Prosen’s excellent Lyrically Speaking site.

4. Where can I get song lyrics for CC songs?

Again, go to Lyrically Speaking.

5. What about George’s solo albums?

There have been five : Sold (1987), High Hat (1989; in the UK, this was released under the name Tense Nervous Headache), Martyr Mantras (1991, released in the US credited to Boy George but in the rest of the world credited to his project Jesus Loves You), Cheapness and Beauty (1995), and The Unrecoupable One Man Bandit – Volume One (1998). For lyrics and chart positions, go to the very helpful Lyrically Speaking.

6. Has George had any top 40 hits since CC broke up?

In the US, just two. Live My Life went to #40 in 1988 and the theme from the Crying Game went to # 15 in 1992. His solo career has been a much greater success in Canada, the UK and some other parts of Europe.

7. What album can I find The Crying Game on?

It is not on any of George’s solo albums, but you can find it on The Crying Game soundtrack, At Worst….The Best of Boy George and Culture Club, and VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments. (see below)

8. Do CC have any greatest hits compilations?

Indeed they do. In fact, some think they have too many! There have been This Time (1987), Best of Culture Club (1990), Collect 12” Mixes Plus (1991), At Worst, The Best of (1993, technically, this one is credited to Boy George and Culture Club), The Greatest (1998, has all the singles from White Boy through God Thank You Woman, including the 7" versions of White Boy, I'm Afraid Of Me and The Medal Song on CD for the first time) and VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments (1998). For a very complete discography, go to the Boy George and Culture Club Discography

9. Where can I buy CC music?

If you’re looking for CC’s and George’s studio albums, most record stores in the US aren’t very helpful. If they have any, they usually carry only Colour By Numbers. Most stores will carry VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments, and possibly some of the other greatest hits compilations.

To locate the studio albums, try CDNow or CDWorld or Music Blvd. For rare and hard to find items, try GEMM or Espirit Records.

10. Which songs did CC make videos for?

They made videos for the following songs: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, Time (Clock of the Heart), Church of the Poison Mind, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, Karma Chameleon, Victims, Miss Me Blind, It’s a Miracle, The War Song, The Medal Song, Mistake #3, Move Away, God Thank You Woman, I Just Wanna Be Loved (hereafter called IJWBL), Your Kisses are Charity and Cold Shoulder. The IJWBL video was made in 1998; the first video for the group since 1986.

In an interview for AOL, the band was asked which videos of theirs they liked the best. The unanimous answer was none, though they liked IJWBL.

11. What television programs have CC been on?

Probably too many for any one person to list. During CC’s heyday, Boy George was on TV almost every day (literally!). One fan, Laura Walker, posted her own personal list of CC/Boy George videotaped items. I do not know how comprehensive it is. You can see it here.

12. What magazines have CC been in?

Again, probably too many for one mortal to list. Adrian Prosen's Lyrically Speaking page has a Magazine section in which images of magazines where George and/or CC were on the cover are scanned. The list is very long and not comprehensive.

Part V: Personal lives of the Band

1. What information about George’s family is known?

Quite a bit. His parents’ names are Dinah (sometimes the name appears as Diana) and Gerald (goes by Gerry/Jerry). He says he is very close to them. George also has 4 brothers (named Richard, Kevin, Gerald and David) and a sister, Siobhan. George was the third of the six children. He says he is close to all of them, especially Siobhan who appears in the video for Church of the Poison Mind as one of the Boy George lookalikes and currently works for her brother as Personal Assistant.

2. What about George’s romance life?

Again, we know quite a bit about it thanks to George’s autobiography. He came out when he was about 15. In his late teens, he had a relationship with Kirk Brandon (formerly in a band called Spear of Destiny.) Kirk unsuccessfully tried to sue George for statements George made in his book; Kirk apparently denied that the relationship ever happened.

After breaking up with Kirk, George soon began his now well-known relationship with Jon Moss. George has said that Jon was his first real love. A detailed description of the relationship can be read at the Story of Culture Club site; you can also get lots of details in TILAM.

After Jon, George began a relationship with Michael Dunne. He said Michael is the first boyfriend he had who identifies as gay. Based on what George has written in his column, it seems that he and Michael ended their relationship in the mid-90’s, though they remained close friends and spoke on the phone nearly every day.

3. When did George publicly come out?

Well, there have been many times he’s come out to different degrees. In CC’s early days, he basically dodged questions about his sexuality (or joked about it, telling press in England that he is “a poof with muscles.”) He eventually told Rolling Stone magazine (and other sources) that he was bisexual (though he later wrote in TILAM that he was lying through his teeth.) When CC won the Grammy for best new artist of 1983, George made the infamous statement in which he thanked America for knowing a good drag queen when they saw one. Many took that as a sort of coming out.

By 1985/86, most people knew as information about his relationship with Jon became more public. After CC’s break up, George became more and more open about being gay in interviews.

4. Does George have any children?

No. A woman unsuccessfully tried to sue him for paternity many years ago. She apparently was an employee of Virgin Records and claimed that the conception took place in 1985. George joked that as he had never been sexual with a woman at that point, it must have been a new virgin birth!

5. What about Roy’s family?

Roy has one older brother.

He met Alison Green in June 1981 at a club. He later played in a band with her brother Robin. The band was called Russian Bouquet. He and Alison soon began a relationship, and married in December 1982. The other members of Culture Club did not attend the ceremony, but they were at the reception.

Roy and Alison have a daughter named Sunny, born in 1986. In the mid-90’s, Roy and Alison decided to separate, though reportedly they have remained friends. They are not yet legally divorced, and they share joint custody of Sunny. Roy now is dating a woman named Casey.

6. What about Mikey’s family?

Mikey has 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

He had 5 children, but one of them is now deceased. Before Culture Club, he began a relationship with Cleo Pizzey and they had two children, Kito (a son) and Amber (daughter.) I don’t know the exact years of the kids’ births, but they were toddlers when Culture Club was getting underway, so they were likely born in the late 70’s. Mikey and Cleo ended their relationship not long after Culture Club got started. Sadly, Kita died in 1999.

Mikey is now married to an Italian woman named Lilli. I don’t know what year they were married, but they have three sons: Milo, Paco and Geo. Geo was born in August 1998; I do not know the birthdates of the others.

7. What about Jon’s family?

Jon was adopted and has an older (adoptive) brother named David.

His relationship with George is pretty well documented now (see Story of Culture Club site.) Jon says he has not dated a man before or since George and that he is heterosexual. Before dating George, he was engaged to a woman named Caroline. He is now involved in a committed relationship with a woman named Barbara (who goes by the nickname Babs.) It is unknown whether they are officially married or not; in some places she is referred to as his wife, other times as his girlfriend. Jon did say in the VH1 Behind the Music: Culture Club Reunion that she is his wife. They have a son named Clyde, who was born in 1997 and a daugher Julia born in 2000.

Part VI: Drugs

1. What information is there about George’s (and the other members of CC’s) drug problems?

This has been rehashed so many times, I am not going to go into detail here. Read TILAM or see the VH1 specials for more information. Basically, George began taking drugs in late 1984 and developed an addiction to heroin that nearly killed him. He spent a lot of 1985 and 1986 wasted but began rehab. It look him years to completely kick the addiction but he has been clean now for a long time.

The other members of the band all admit to taking cocaine but say they did not take heroin. By 1986, Roy also had a serious drug problem and had to go through a rehabilitation program as well. I do not know how serious Jon and Mikey’s problems became and whether they also had to go through rehab.

The band says they are all drug-free nowadays. (They do all have an affinity for cigarettes though, especially George.)

2. Why did George begin taking drugs?

There were lots of reasons. He has told VH1 that it had to do with depression over his relationship with Jon ending and because he needed a way to deal with the constant pressure and stress of CC’s fame. In TILAM, he elaborated on elements of his life that led him to self –destruct.

Part VII: Miscellaneous

1. Are there fan clubs or fanzines for Boy George and/or Culture Club?

There are two web-based fanzines.

  • Global Culture. Culture Club web fanzine run by Alison Hay and Matt Jackson.
  • 100% Boy.Boy George web fanzine run by Stuart Essom.

    As for fan clubs, there is not a fan club solely for CC, but there is an official one for George called The Book of G’OD.

    2. How many web pages are there for Boy George and/or Culture Club?

    Please check out Choose a Colour, Find a Star.

    3. I keep hearing George’s name linked to Marilyn. Who is this?

    There are two men named Marilyn in George’s life! He has had an off and on friendship with a man named Marilyn who enjoyed a brief period of success in England as a pop singer in the mid-80’s. George and Marilyn have something of a love-hate friendship and are often not on speaking terms with each other.

    The other Marilyn is the well known singer Marilyn Manson. George greatly admires him, calling him a true rock n roll queen. He says he likes the way MM challenges the right wing, although he does not always agree with everything MM says. MM’s mother is said to be a big fan of George’s, and George has met MM several times.

    And no, George has not been linked romantically to either Marilyn.

    4. How did Jon get those scars on his face?

    He was in a car accident in the late 70’s and went through a windshield. Legend has it he had been on his way to audition for the Ramones.

    5. What are the political views of the members of the band?

    As for Jon, Roy and Mikey I have no idea. Although they now do interviews more often, I have not seen any where they are asked their opinions on this.

    You can get a good sense of George’s political views via the column he writes for The Express. You can read the column at The Devil in Sister George site.

    6. What happened to Steve Levine (the producer of CC’s first three albums)?

    He continues to produce and recently produced most of the debut album of the UK trio, the Honeyz.

    Number of visitors this page received since 4 January 1999:

    Page created in 1999 by Marianne Merola.

    Special thank you to Adrian of Lyrically Speaking.

    Corrections, additions, or suggestions? Feel free to send an email.

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