Culture Club


Culture Club
Culture Club

Culture Club, R-L: Jon Moss, Roy Hay, Boy George and Mikey Craig.
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres New romantic, new wave, soul, blue eyed soul, soft rock, rock
Years active 1981–1986, 1998–2002, 2011–present
Labels Virgin, Epic
Associated acts Bow Wow Wow
Website culture-club.co.uk
Past members
Boy George
Roy Hay
Mikey Craig
Jon Moss
Sam Butcher

Culture Club is a British rock band who were part of the 1980s New Romantic movement.[1] The original band consisted of Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion).[2] Their second album, Colour by Numbers, has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, and they had several international hits with songs such as "Church of the Poison Mind", "Karma Chameleon" and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me". Boy George's androgynous style of dressing caught the attention of the public and the media.

Culture Club's music combines British new wave and American soul with Jamaican reggae and also other styles such as calypso, salsa or country.[3][4] From the time of the band's first album release in 1981 to its dissolution in 1986, Culture Club had amassed hits in several countries around the world, including ten Top 40 hits in the US, most of which went Top 10. They went on to have subsequent hits in the UK during a reunion period of 1998–2002, where they scored a No. 4 single and a No. 25 single. In America they are associated with the Second British Invasion of British new wave groups that became popular in the United States due to the cable music channel MTV.[5]

Contents

History

Formation and Kissing to Be Clever: 1981–1983

In 1981, Boy George occasionally sang with the group Bow Wow Wow under the stage name "Lieutenant Lush". However, his popularity in this role caused friction with the group's actual lead singer, Annabella Lwin.[2] After his tenure with the group, George decided to start his own band and enlisted Mikey Craig. Next came Jon Moss, and finally Roy Hay.[2] The band was named Culture Club. The group recorded demos, which were paid for by EMI Records, but the label was unimpressed and decided not to sign the group. Virgin Records heard the demos and signed the group in the UK, and Epic Records released their albums in the US as Virgin did not have a U.S. presence at the time.[2]

With their first album, Kissing to Be Clever (UK #5, US #14) (1982), the band released two singles in May and June 1982, "White Boy" and "I'm Afraid of Me", both failed to chart.[6] But in September of that year, the group released their third single "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me", a reggae-influenced number, which became one of their biggest hits.[6] The song went to No. 1 in the UK in late 1982 and became an international smash, peaking at No. 1 in over a dozen countries (Number 2 US).[2] With George's eccentric and androgynous look and long hair, the band's debut on Top of the Pops caused headlines such as "Wally of the week" and "Mr. (or is it Mrs.?) Weird" as the tabloids and magazines plastered him all over their covers. Pete Burns, lead singer of the new wave band Dead or Alive would later claim he was the first to wear braids, big hats, and colourful costumes, but George would cut back with a sharp-tongued remark, "It's not who did it first, it's who did it better".

The follow-up single "Time (Clock of the Heart)", featuring George's soulful vocals over an R&B groove, became another Top 10 hit in the US (Number 2) and UK (Number 3). "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" also became a Top Ten hit in the US (Number 9) and in Canada. This gave Culture Club the distinction of being the first group since The Beatles to have three Top Ten hits in America from a debut album. Kissing to Be Clever sold over two million copies in the US, and another three million worldwide at the time of its release, propelling George to international stardom.

Colour by Numbers and international acclaim: 1983–1984

The band's second album, Colour by Numbers (UK #1, US #2) was released in 1983. The first single "Church of the Poison Mind", featuring backing vocalist Helen Terry, reached the UK and US Top 10, continuing the group's success.[2] The second single "Karma Chameleon" gave the band its biggest hit, peaking at No. 1 in the UK (its second chart-topper there), where it sold 1.4 million copies to become the best-selling single of 1983 in that country. It also peaked at No. 1 in the US for three consecutive weeks, and would ultimately hit No. 1 in sixteen countries, thus becoming one of the top twenty best-selling singles of the 1980s. The album Colour by Numbers would spawn more hits including "Miss Me Blind" (Number 5 US), "It's a Miracle" (Number 4 UK, Nomber 13 US), and "Victims" (Number 3 UK), and sell four million copies in the US and another five million worldwide at its time of release. With that album, Culture Club was the first group in music history to have an album certified diamond in Canada (sales of one million copies in that country). The band also won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, where George gave a speech via satellite stating, "Thanks America, you've got style, you've got taste, and you know a good drag queen when you see one."

The group's back-up singer, Helen Terry, began work on her solo album, for which George and Hay wrote the song "Love Lies Lost". The pair also wrote "Passing Friend" for the Beach Boys' album. Culture Club was asked to write two songs for the soundtrack to the movie Electric Dreams. George and Hay wrote "The Dream" and "Love Is Love", with the latter being released as a single in Canada and Japan, the E.P "Love is Love" became a major hit in Japan. George also collaborated on the song "Electric Dreams", sung by P. P. Arnold. The song was written with Phil Pickett (former member of the 1970s band Sailor) who had also co-written "Karma Chameleon" and frequently played keyboards for the group.

Despite all this success, trouble was brewing within Culture Club. First, George was occasionally using drugs with money from his new-found fame. Second, although known to other band members Hay and Craig at the time, it was not public that George and Moss were romantically involved with each other. Their relationship lasted for over four years and was often turbulent, with both physical and verbal abuse. The pressure to hide the relationship from the press and the public started to take its toll on the band.

Waking Up with the House on Fire, From Luxury to Heartache and decline: 1984–1986

In 1984, the group released its third album, Waking Up with the House on Fire (UK #2, US #26). It was a commercial and critical disappointment compared to their first two releases. "Waking Up..." sold up two million copies worldwide upon its release, with one million of those in America, earning platinum certification. The album had one hit single in "The War Song", which went top ten and top twenty in the UK and US, respectively. Other singles like "Mistake No. 3" (US #33) and "The Medal Song" (UK #32) would become modest hits. George later stated he felt the album experienced a lukewarm reception because of half-hearted material he felt they released due to pressure from Virgin and Epic to quickly release a follow-up to Colour by Numbers. According to him, the band had just come off an exhausting world tour in 1984 and, as a result, the fatigue ended up coming off on the album.

At the end of 1984, Boy George was recruited by Bob Geldof to attend the Band Aid recording, consisting of mostly internationally-known UK and Irish recording stars. George was in New York City when Geldof called him, but managed to catch the final Concorde of the day to London and was the last singer to record a lead vocal track for the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The song would become an international hit, raising millions for famine victims in Africa.

George had been abusing drugs for several years and by 1986 he became seriously addicted to cocaine, which then evolved into a heroin addiction. As a result, the band continued to lose its place musically. The recording of their fourth studio album, 1986's From Luxury to Heartache (UK #10, US #32) dragged on for so long that producer Arif Mardin had to abandon the sessions due to prior commitments and leave it to engineer Lew Hahn to record the final vocals. Songs like "Gusto Blusto" and "Reasons" took days for the addicted singer to finish. Nevertheless, the first single "Move Away" became a hit, peaking at UK No. 7 and US #12, and the album seemed capable of returning Culture Club back to hit-making status. But by the time of the release of the second single "God Thank You Woman", news of George's drug addiction began to circulate in British and American tabloids, which were denied by the singer, and the second single stalled on the charts. George and Jon also could no longer be around each other due to constant relationship battles and, coupled with George's drug addiction, a forthcoming American tour had to be cancelled. From Luxury to Heartache began to fade from the charts as well and the album ultimately sold about one million copies worldwide. By the summer of 1986, George admitted that he was indeed addicted to drugs. In July, he was arrested by the British police for possession of cannabis. The band broke up and George pursued a solo career with several European hits and a couple of US Top 40 hits. George would continue to struggle with his drug addiction for several years.

Reunions

The band first tried to reunite in 1989 after many requests from Tony Gordon, the group's former manager and Boy George's current manager at that time. Boy George agreed to try some songs with the band again, resulting in recording sessions that went quite well and producing more than a dozen songs that are still unreleased to this day. Boy George, however, was more excited about his future projects like his record label, More Protein, and his dance-oriented music he was looking to release. The reunion would end up being cancelled.

In 1998, George and Jon put their differences aside and the band actually reunited to do a reunion tour, kicking off with a performance on VH1 Storytellers.[7] George said about the reunion, "Culture Club's reunion couldn't have come at a better time for rock", adding that, "It's a nostalgia trip, there's no way of avoiding that".[7] The tour was a major success. A compilation album based around the Storytellers performance was released, and went platinum in UK, which included new songs such as "I Just Wanna Be Loved", which hit UK #4.[8][9] Their 1999 studio album Don't Mind If I Do peaked at No. 64 in the UK.[10] It included moderate UK hits in "Your Kisses Are Charity" (UK #25) and "Cold Shoulder" (UK #43).[10]

The band went on to tour, then reunited again for a 20th anniversary concert in 2002 at the Royal Albert Hall.[11] This performance was released on DVD the following year.[11] Culture Club then became inactive again, largely due to Boy George's successful DJ career.

In 2006, two original members of Culture Club (Craig and Moss), tried to launch a new tour with another lead singer, as George and Roy Hay had declined to tour. Early that year, the band's record company placed an ad for a lead singer to "...take part in a 2007 World Tour and TV Series." The new singer, Sam Butcher was selected because of his own personality, "not a Boy George lookalike." George expressed his displeasure in the press, even though Culture Club's MySpace page says otherwise.[12] A tour was announced for December 2006 in the UK, but was postponed to give the new line-up time to finish recording their album. Without official press statements, in 2007, band manager Tony Gordon, said that the project was "on hold", while drummer Jon Moss stated that the project was shelved.

Boy George announced on 27 January 2011 to the BBC that there will be a 30th anniversary Culture Club reunion tour sometime later in the year and that they would be releasing a new album in 2012.[13]

Awards, nominations, honours

In 1984, Culture Club won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and Philadelphia Inquirer said about the successful band, "Among the other major winners were the English rock band Culture Club (Best New Artist), hard-rock vocalist Pat Benatar (Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female) and the English rock trio The Police (Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group)".[14] They were nominated the same year for the Grammy Award for Pop Vocal by Group or Duo but the English rock band The Police won the award.[15][16] In 1984, Culture Club was also nominated for a Canadian Juno Award for International Album of the Year, but The Police won that award.[17] In January 1985, they were nominated for an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group Video Artist, and in September 1985, they were nominated for 2 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction for their video "It's a Miracle".[18][19][20][21] In 1987, they received another nomination for an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group Video Artist.[22][23] Considered as one of the 500 most influential rock songs, "Time (Clock Of The Heart)" has been included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.[24][25][26] In 2009, "Karma Chameleon" was chosen as the quintessential song of the 1980s by video site Ryeberg.

Music

Culture Club are a British new romantic-rock band, whose sound combines British new wave and American soul with Jamaican reggae and also other styles as calypso, salsa or country.[3][4][1][27][28][29]

Philadelphia Daily News described Culture Club as a hot new rock act, while William K Knoedelseder Jr from Los Angeles Times said about the group, "Boy George of Culture Club, a rock group MTV helped make popular", adding that, "There's some debate in the record industry about MTV's ability to directly increase record sales across the board but there's no doubt that the channel has been responsible for exposing such rock artists as Def Leppard, Duran Duran and Men at Work to a national audience...".[30][31]

In the 1980s, Boy George said about the music style of his band Culture Club, "We play rock 'n' roll and I love rock 'n' roll music but I don't like the lifestyle. I don't like people tipping beer over their heads.... I just hate rock 'n' roll in that way. It's disgusting and boring. I look at what we're doing as very intelligent".[32]

When Culture Club won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Philadelphia Inquirer said about the band, "Among the other major winners were the English rock band Culture Club (Best New Artist), hard-rock vocalist Pat Benatar (Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female) and the English rock trio The Police (Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group)".[14]

Stephen Holden, music critic for The New York Times, said in his article Rock: British Culture Club, that the popular quartet, "Culture Club blends soul, rock, funk, reggae and salsa into a music that programmatically reconciles white, black and Latin styles", adding that, "Mr. O'Dowd made the group's best songs – the Motown-flavoured Do You Really Want to Hurt Me and the Latin-inflected dance tune I'll Tumble 4 Ya – shine like jewels".[33]

Star News considered Culture Club as a 'new rock' band of the 1980s, the newspaper said, "Now you see the more rhythm-oriented, 'new rock of the 80s,' like Culture Club and the Eurythmics, fitting in more easily with urban contemporary formats".[34]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor for Allmusic, described specifically Culture Club as a new wave band and generically as the most successful pop/rock group in America and England during the 1980s, adding that, "By 1986, the group had broken up, leaving behind several singles that rank as classics of the new wave era".[2]

The music of the English rock band Culture Club, is basically a combination of new wave and soul, is described by Boy George himself as he says, "The aim is to be creatively fluid to make everything we do a little different. We want to be a bridge between white rock and black soul", adding that, "I want Culture Club to represent all peoples and minorities".[35][36]

The rock band, also described as pop/rock, was part of the second British rock invasion of the 1980s in the United States as R. Serge Denisoff and William L. Schurk said in their book Tarnished gold: the record industry revisited, "Here comes the rock and roll of 1984. The invaders were a mixed bunch led by Culture Club, whose sound has been described as 'recycled Smokey Robinson' or 'torchy American schmaltz and classic Motown'", adding that, "Boy George's drag-queen appearance made the group a natural for the visual demands of cable television".[5][37]

In her book Magazines for children: a guide for parents, teachers, and librarians, author Selma K. Richardson said that Culture Club's music is soft rock that contains, "enough soul and new wave elements to cover almost all audiences".[38]

Discography

References

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  11. ^ a b Indiana University (2004). The Video librarian, Volume 19. Randy Pitman. p. 70. http://books.google.com/books?id=EbzjAAAAMAAJ&q=Culture+Club++Live+At+The+Royal+Albert+Hall++The+20th+Anniversary++2002&dq=Culture+Club++Live+At+The+Royal+Albert+Hall++The+20th+Anniversary++2002&hl=en&ei=DLQ4TdOYCs-r8QOV06TRCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 20 January 2011. "Filmed live at London's Royal Albert Hall, this 2002 concert finds Culture Club celebrating its 20th anniversary with an infectious and expansive grandeur, all the while basking in the love of adoring fans" 
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  29. ^ Indiana University (1984). Newsweek, Volume 103, Issues 1–9. http://www.google.com/search?tbs=bks%3A1&tbo=1&q=The+most+recent+single%2C+the+country-flavored+%22Karma+Chameleon%22++Newsweek+&btnG=Search+Books. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  30. ^ "Rocked By Scandal, Ripley Music Hall Rolls Up & Dies". Philadelphia Daily News. 27 June 1984. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=DN&s_site=philly&p_multi=PI. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  31. ^ Knoedelseder Jr., William K. (26 August 1984). "MTV Turning Video Rock Into Gold". Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/672700032.html?dids=672700032:672700032&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Aug+26,+1984&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&desc=MTV+Turning+Video+Rock+Into+Gold&pqatl=google. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  32. ^ "A Musician Who Speaks His Mind". Philadelphia Inquirer. 25 March 1984. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=PI&s_site=philly&p_multi=PI&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB2975D1EA4A974&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  33. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 December 1982). "Rock: British Culture Club". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/06/arts/rock-british-culture-club.html?scp=1&sq=+rock+%22culture+club%22&st=nyt. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  34. ^ "Music". Star News. 12 August 1984. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DL0sAAAAIBAJ&sjid=thMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6953,3429903&dq=culture+club+new+rock&hl=en. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  35. ^ Moley, Raymond; Muir, Malcolm; Phillips, Joseph Becker; Smith, Rex; Williamson, Samuel Thurston (1983). Newsweek, Volume 101, Issues 18–26. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=bks%3A1&q=Raymond+Moley%2C+Malcolm+Muir%2C+Joseph+Becker+Phillips+++%22culture+club%22+white+rock+&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  36. ^ David, Maria (1984). Boy George and Culture Club. Greenwich House. p. 1. http://books.google.com/books?id=O46fAAAAMAAJ&q=boy+george+culture+club&dq=boy+george+culture+club&hl=en&ei=_6-WTIWaMMKB8gbb3vGRDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 19 September 2010. "A collection of photographs of the rock band, Culture Club, is accompanied by a brief discussion of the group's musical career" 
  37. ^ Denisoff, R. Serge; Schurk, William L. (1986). Tarnished gold: the record industry revisited. Transaction Publishers. p. 149. ISBN 9780887386183. http://books.google.com/books?id=JWdMOZGNOHUC&pg=PA149&dq=R.+Serge+Denisoff,+William+L.+Schurk+%22culture+club%22+rock+and+roll+of+1984&hl=en&ei=nXGNTJGcNIH-8AbHqNiSCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  38. ^ Richardson, Selma K. (1983). Magazines for children: a guide for parents, teachers, and librarians, Volume 7. American Library Association. p. 57. ISBN 9780838903926. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=1&tbs=bks%3A1&q=Selma+K.+Richardson++%22culture+club%22+%22soft+rock%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 

Bibliography

  • Blackwell, Earl (1986). Earl Blackwell's celebrity register‎. Times Pub. Group. ISBN 9780961547608. 
  • Blackwell, Earl (1990). Earl Blackwell's celebrity register‎. Times Publishing Group. 
  • Cohen, Scott (1984). Boy George. Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425076392. 
  • David, Maria (1984). Boy George and Culture Club. American Library Association. 
  • Denisoff, R. Serge; Schurk, William L. (1986). Tarnished gold: the record industry revisited. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9780887386183. 
  • Indiana University (1984). Newsweek, Volume 103, Issues 1–9. 
  • Moley, Raymond; Muir, Malcolm; Phillips, Joseph Becker; Smith, Rex; Williamson, Samuel Thurston (1983). Newsweek, Volume 101, Issues 18–26. 
  • Richardson, Selma K. (1983). Magazines for children: a guide for parents, teachers, and librarians, Volume 7. American Library Association. ISBN 9780838903926. 
  • Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The complete book of the British charts: singles & albums. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781844490585. 

Songbooks

  • Kissing to Be Clever (including "Time (Clock of the Heart)" – 1982), London & Suffolk, West Central Printing Co. Ltd., distr. Music Sales Ltd.
  • Colour by Numbers (1983), London & Suffolk, West Central Printing Co. Ltd., distr. Music Sales Ltd.
  • Waking Up with the House on Fire (1984), London & Suffolk, West Central Printing Co. Ltd., distr. Music Sales Ltd.
  • From Luxury to Heartache (1986), Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd., distr. IMP-International Music Publications, Essex, England
  • Culture Club (Songbook) (10 of their best songs – 1987), Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd., distr. IMP-International Music Publications, Essex, England

N.B. Each of the first four songbooks includes a detailed official biography, which is each time updated: this way, such songbooks, corresponding to the band's first four albums, chronicle the early official biography of Culture Club, from 1982 to 1986.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Men at Work
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
1984
Succeeded by
Cyndi Lauper

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