Andy Coleman speaks to Boy George about turning 50 and the future of Culture Club.
Boy George is growing older but is he finally growing up? The flamboyant singer celebrated his 50th birthday last week and feels it’s time he took a more mature attitude to life.
‘‘My 40s were sort of tortuous,’’ he admits. ‘‘My 40s were when I was supposed to become more sane but unfortunately it’s happened a bit later than that.
‘‘I’ve never been a big fusser about age, although 50 does seem quite huge. I didn’t really think about it til about two days before my birthday and it was, oh my God, I’m 50. But I’ll get over it – I’ll be 51 next year!’’
George’s “tortuous” 40s included being sentenced to community service in New York for falsely reporting a burglary and being convicted in London of assault and false imprisonment for which he served four months in prison.
He says he has now resolved to stay out of trouble.
“I made that vow some time ago, even before my 50th birthday,” he says. “I want to enjoy my 50s as much as possible. I’m pretty healthy at the moment and feeling quite positive and enjoying what I do.”
Among his many projects is headlining the Here and Now ’80s nostalgia show that visits Birmingham LG Arena this week.
Also on the bill are Jason Donovan, Jimmy Somerville, Belinda Carlisle, Midge Ure, A Flock Of Seagulls and Pepsi & Shirlie.
‘‘It’s a poptastic show. Everyone does their classic songs and it’s exactly what it says on the packet. The audiences are really affectionate and it’s a lot of fun. During the last one I did there was a crowd karaoke, 20,000 people doing Do You Really Want To Hurt Me which was quite sweet.”
Returning to Birmingham will bring back many memories for George, whose full name is George O’Dowd.
‘‘My aunt lives in Birmingham and my grandmother lived there til she died, so my summer holidays were spent in the Midlands and Birmingham,’’ he says.
“I moved to Walsall when I was about 17 and for about a year I lived in a flat with Martin Degville, who was in Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I also worked for a time in the Bull Ring.
“I used to club at the Rum Runner and Holy City Zoo which was owned by the footballer Andy Gray. In fact, I won a competition for Birmingham’s Weirdest Person and was presented with a lovely bottle of Champagne by Gray.”
This is the same Andy Gray who was sacked by Sky Sports this year for suggestive comments to a female presenter?
“I suppose he was more liberal back then,” George laughs.
The news that fans of ’80s music really want to hear is that the original Culture Club line-up is getting back together again. George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss sold millions of records worldwide between 1982 and 1986 and reunited previously in 1998 and 2002.
“I think we’ll be starting in Australia next February and we’re going to do the UK, hopefully, in the summer,” George says.
“I started the ball rolling about a year ago because I worked out we were coming up to our 30th anniversary and I just thought, I’m in a really good space at the moment, I love all my band, we’ve all grown up a bit, it’s the perfect time to do it.
‘‘And I think it’s almost the last opportunity really. If we don’t do it now I don’t know when we’d do it.”
There are even plans for a new Culture Club album. The band will jam together in rehearsal studios next month.
“We’re going to do it as we used to do it in the early days – we went into a little dingy room and play and play and see what came out.
“Mark Ronson’s one of the people we’re talking about working with, maybe we’ll do a three-track EP this year with an album next year.”
Returning to his theme of growing old gracefully, George adds: “I don’t know what the album’s going to be like, something kind of a bit more grown-up. We’re not going to try and wear trousers we wore when we were 20, we’re not going to try and recreate anything. It’s got to be something that’s a bit mature and elder statesman-like.”
Meanwhile, George has recently released a solo album, Ordinary Alien, and has set up his own dance label, VG (Very Good) Records.
The label’s first single is out now – Sunshine Into My Life by Funkysober, featuring the vocals of Sharleen Hector who also sings with Basement Jaxx.
Funkysober is actually George and fellow producers Darren Tate and Marc Vedo.
‘‘During the rest of the year we’ve got loads of stuff coming out with different singers,’’ George says.
‘‘We’re just working with lots of amazing people.’’
* Here and Now is at the LG Arena, Birmingham today. For tickets call 0844 338 8000.