Boy George (born George Alan O'Dowd; 14 June 1961- ) is a British singer-songwriter, who was part of the English New Romantic movement which emerged in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. His music is often classified as blue-eyed soul, which is influenced by rhythm and blues and reggae. His 1990s and 2000s era solo music has glam influences, such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
During the 1980s, Boy George was the lead singer of the Grammy and Brit Award winning pop band Culture Club where he became known for his soulful voice and androgynous appearance. He also founded and was lead singer of Jesus Loves You during the period 1989–1992. Being involved in many activities (among them songwriting, DJing, writing books, designing clothes and photography), he has released fewer music recordings in the last decade.
Boy George was born George Alan O'Dowd at Barnehurst Hospital in Bexley, Kent on 14 June 1961, to Jeremiah and Dinah O'Dowd (née Glynn), who were originally from Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland. One of six children, he lived with his family on the Middle Park Estate at Joan Crescent London SE9 and attended Eltham Green School in Eltham.
George was a follower of the New Romantic movement which was popular in Britain in the early 1980s. He lived in various squats around Warren Street in Central London. He and his friend Marilyn were regulars at The Blitz, a trendy London nightclub run by Steve Strange of the group Visage.
Boy George's androgynous style of dressing caught the attention of music executive Malcolm McLaren (previously the manager of the Sex Pistols), who arranged for George to perform with the group Bow Wow Wow. Going by the stage name Lieutenant Lush, his tenure with Bow Wow Wow proved problematic with lead singer Annabella Lwin. George eventually left the group and started his own band with bassist Mikey Craig. They were joined by Jon Moss (who had drumming stints with The Damned and Adam and the Ants), and then guitarist Roy Hay. Realizing they had a cross-dressing Irish singer (George), a black-Briton (Craig), a Jewish drummer (Moss), and an ethnic Englishman (Hay), they settled on the name Culture Club, referring to the various ethnic backgrounds of the members.
When George was with Culture Club, much was made of his androgynous appearance, and there was speculation about his sexuality. Although he never flatly denied that he was gay, when asked in interviews about his sexual orientation, George gave various answers. He gave a famous, oft-quoted response to an interviewer that he preferred "a nice cup of tea" to sex.
In Take It Like a Man, George stated that he had secret relationships with punk rock singer Kirk Brandon and Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. He stated many of the songs he wrote for Culture Club were about his relationship with Moss.
In 2006, in an episodic documentary directed by Simon George titled The Madness of Boy George, George declared on camera he was "militantly gay". In a 2008 documentary Living with Boy George, he talks about his first realisation he was gay, and when he first told his parents. He discloses that he understands why men fall in love with one another as well as with women.
Since 2012, Boy George has credited his practice of Nichiren Buddhism and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for his newfound spiritual strength to remain sober.