Culture Club – The War Song
Born George Alan O’Dowd on June 14, 1961, in Eltham, London, to parents Gerry and Dinah O’Dowd. George grew up in a lively household with his four brothers and one sister. Despite being part of the large working class Irish brood, George claims he had a lonely childhood, referring to himself as the “pink sheep” of the family.
To stand out in the male-dominated household, George created his own image on which he became dependent. “It didn’t bother me to walk down the street and to be stared at. I loved it,” he later reminisced.
George didn’t exactly conform to the typical school student stereotype, either. With a leaning more toward arts rather than science and math, he found it hard to fit within traditional masculine stereotypes. With his schoolwork suffering, and an ongoing battle of wits between him and his teachers, it wasn’t long before the school gave up and expelled George over his increasingly outlandish behavior and outrageous clothes and make-up.
Suddenly George found himself out of school, and without a job. He took any work he could find that paid him enough money to live on including a job picking fruit; a stint as a milliner; and even a gig as a make-up artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he picked up some handy techniques for his own personal use.
Forming the Culture Club
By the 1980s, the New Romantic Movement had emerged in the U.K. Followers of the New Romantic period, influenced heavily by artists such as David Bowie, often dressed in grand caricatures of the 19th century English Romantic period. This included exaggerated upscale hairstyles and fashion statements. Men typically wore androgynous clothing and makeup, such as eyeliner.
The style became a calling card for George, whose flamboyance fit their beliefs perfectly. The attention the New Romantics attracted inevitably created many new headlines for the press. It wasn’t long before George was giving interviews based purely on his appearance.
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