Born George Alan O'Dowd, Boy George and Culture Club, the band he fronted, were at the front of the English New Romantic movement that emerged in the early '80s. The electronic synthpop style was the foundation of the movement, and Culture Club's well crafted pop songs, along with George's androgynous persona and exocentric look, had the band readymade for the birth of the music video era.
George's roots as a performer came to be in a rather unexpected fashion. Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren discovered George and recruited him to sing with Bow Wow Wow. His stint with the band was short lived, but it did connect George to the people who would later compose the lineup for Culture Club, who would sign to Virgin Records in 1982, the same year that saw the release of Kissing to be Clever. That debut record featured perhaps Boy George's most lasting hit "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", which went to number one in more than a doezen countries (number two in the US). With "Time (Clock of the Heart)" and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" also hitting the Top 10 on US charts, Kissing made Culture Club the first band since the Beatles to have a debut album with three Top 10 hits.
George and the band would not fall victim to the sophomore slump with their follow up Colour by Numbers, which saw even more success and had a 16-courntrywide hit with the George-penned "Karma Chameleon." Boy George also garnered more attention as part of the collective that released the charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas", on which he had one of the rare lead vocals. Unfortunately, the mid-'80s saw difficult times for George and his band. In addition to the declining success of their follow up albums, George developed a drug abuse problem and was also arrested for marijuana possession, and the keyboardist for Culture Club, Michael Rudetski, died from a drug overdose. The toll this all took on the band and Boy George led to Culture Club's breakup shortly after the release of their fourth album.
By the late '80s, George had begun to record as a solo artist, releasing Sold in 1987. While popular in the UK, George's solo output never enjoyed the same success of the early Culture Club records. George continued to write and record through the '90s, and by the '00s, he had a resurgence of sorts as a prominent DJ. Boy George remains a public figure as both a DJ in demand and an iconic symbol of the '80s.