Inside the Boy George and Jon Moss feud that tore Culture Club apartMarch 22, 2023
Inside Culture Club feud that has torn the band apart: How Boy George’s secret four-year relationship with ex-drummer John Moss led to the band’s break-up and a legal battle over group’s profits
- Read more: Culture Club’s ex drummer John Moss to be paid £1.75m
It was the secret love affair that helped Culture Club become one of Britain’s most successful musical exports in the early 1980s – and the one that ultimately tore them apart.
Lead singer Boy George, 61, and drummer Jon Moss, 65, were together during the iconic band’s formative years, and their relationship helped inspire hits like Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?
However their often turbulent romance, with alleged physical and verbal abuse on both sides, created tension among the four band members, including bassist Mikey Craig, 63, and guitarist Roy Hay, 61.
Writing in his 1995 autobiography Take It Like A Man, George said his relationship with Moss was ‘built on power-tripping and masochism’, but admitted: ‘Our love, however diseased, was the creative force behind Culture Club.’
The ‘great unresolved romance of the century’, as Moss once called it, took another turn this week following a reported £1.75m settlement between Moss and his former bandmates.
Culture Club’s lead singer Boy George, 61, and drummer Jon Moss, 65, were together during the iconic band’s formative years (Pictured: George, left, and Moss in Tokyo in August 1985)
Writing in his 1995 autobiography Take It Like A Man, George said his relationship with Moss was ‘built on power-tripping and masochism’, but admitted: ‘Our love, however diseased, was the creative force behind Culture Club.’ (Pictured: Moss and George at George’s 50th birthday party in London, in 2011)
READ MORE: Culture Club’s ex drummer John Moss who was once in a relationship with Boy George will be paid £1.75m by his former bandmates
Moss had sued for lost earnings after claiming he was told to ‘take a break’ from the European leg of the band’s 2018 world tour Life, meaning he missed out on £200,000 in profits.
The court order, issued on Tuesday, states that the group had agreed that a judgment should be made in favour of Mr Moss, meaning the musicians will avoid a six-day trial which had been due to start next week.
It was the latest chapter in a long-running, on and off again feud between Moss and Boy George, whose relationship began in 1981, the same year the Culture Club was formed.
George had been performing in the Blitz Club in Covent Garden, often singing with the group Bow Wow Wow, before he decided to create his own band.
The diversity of the new group – a gay, Irish lead singer, black bass player, Jewish drummer and English keyboard player – gave the band its name: Culture Club.
George and Moss quickly became an item, although they chose to keep it private. George later claimed that Moss was ashamed of their relationship, which he vehemently denied.
George later told the Daily Mail: ‘I’ve realised that, actually, some things are my own business. I don’t have to put everything in the public domain.
‘I’ve learned the hard way that some things are private, and I’m probably going to save myself a lot of heartache.
‘Had I known that years ago, and not been such a foghorn about it, I probably could have had a healthy relationship with Jon.
George and Moss’s often turbulent romance, with alleged physical and verbal abuse on both sides, created tension among the four band members, including bassist Mikey Craig, 63, and guitarist Roy Hay, 61. (Pictured left to right: Craig, Hay, George and Moss)
Culture Club group portrait, Washington DC, August 1983, (clockwise from top left) Boy George, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss
Jon Moss and Boy George pictured together in London in 1981, before their rise to fame
George had been performing in the Blitz Club in Covent Garden, often singing with the group Bow Wow Wow, before he decided to create his own band. The diversity of the new group – a gay, Irish lead singer, black bass player, Jewish drummer and English keyboard player – gave the band its name: Culture Club
End of an era: By the mid-1980s Boy George, whose real name is George Alan O’Dowd, had been exposed by the tabloids as a heroin addict. Further drug problems and internal feuding led to Culture Club’s eventual demise in 1986. Pictured in London in 2007
Throwback! Boy George burst onto the music scene in the early ’80s with his band Culture Club, known for their No. 1 hits Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? and Karma Chameleon. Pictured with Debbie Harry in London in 1987
‘You learn over the years that some things are sacred, and that’s why I’m glad I have a decent relationship with Jon now, otherwise it would rubbish everything we had.’
He added: ‘We do love each other, but it’s not like a sexual love or desire love. I care about him and would be really sad if anything happened to him, and I’m glad he’s in my life. I wouldn’t have said that ten years ago.’
Speaking to The Independent in 1999, George said of their relationship: ‘It’s not like I ever really got what I needed from Jon. I loved him more than anything in the world, but in hindsight, it was a very dysfunctional relationship.’
Moss added: ‘It was the band that kept us together, plus the sexual relationship, but we didn’t really get on. Though I was obviously gay because I was with George, I wasn’t gay in inverted commas.
‘When we’d watch television, he’d say, ‘Oh, he’s cute,’ and I’d say, ‘Why can’t we just watch the programme?’ That was the difference. There’s never been a feeling of closure. I think ours is the great unresolved romance of the century.’
The Culture Club had immediate chemistry and were signed with Virgin Records less than a year after forming, releasing their first smash hit album Kissing To Be Clever in October 1982.
I’m a Celebrity star Boy George – whose real name is George O’Dowd – and his bandmates are now expected to pay the sum to Moss immediately following the settling of their High Court dispute this week
Jon Moss, 65, was a founding member of the 1980s band, but alleges he was ‘expelled’ by their manager in September 2018 after 37 years playing with them
Happier times: Boy George and Moss dated in 1981, with the Culture Club frontman later saying in his tell-all book, Take It Like A Man, that his lover was ashamed of their relationship – a claim Moss vehemently denied (pictured in 2014)
Flashback: Boy George – who is known for hits including Karma Chameleon with Culture Club – joined The Voice Australia in 2017. Pictured in the early 1980s
But George and Moss soon began falling out. George once told VH1 that Moss had ‘gone off with a girl’ and that he would ‘always come back, apologising and the rest of it.’
This, he said, ‘pretty much set the tone for our relationship for the rest of Culture Club.’
The world was largely unaware that the early songs that made the band so successful – and which often sounded happy – were actually a testament to George’s torment.
George told VH1 that ‘all the early songs were about Jon’, adding: ‘I literally wrote about our relationship as it happened.’
Moss and George continued to clash while their band was enjoying global success. Their second album, Colour By Numbers, sold more than 10 million copies and would go on to produce three top 10 hits.
But the pressures of non-stop touring took its toll and the pair eventually broke it off for good in 1985.
However the tensions caused by their rocky relationship continued to affect the group and George spiralled into a heroin addiction.
Dispute: Moss claimed he was owed an ‘outstanding balance’ of £188,000 ($246,000) under the terms of a band agreement reached over the operation of its 2018 Life Tour (Pictured in 1998, left to right: Mikey Craig, Boy George, Jon Moss and Roy Hay)
Boy George as a judge on The Voice Australia
During an appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories in 2015, George admitted that he once had a £400-a-day heroin habit. He would struggle with drugs for years before eventually becoming sober in 2008 – which he put down to practicing Nichiren Buddhism.
In 1985, Culture Club’s US tour was cancelled when Moss and George no longer want to be around each other.
George admitted he had a heroin problem and was arrested by British police for possession of the drug. By 1986 the band had broken up.
George bounced back with a successful career as a solo artist in the late ’80s, before reinventing himself once again in the ’90s as a critically-acclaimed DJ.
Culture Club have reunited over the years and found success with their 1998 tour and album Don’t Mind If I Do.
The quartet met again 20 years later for the 2018 album Life, which saw George and Moss back in the studio together for the first time in over two decades.
They took the album on a world tour, but after the US leg, Moss decided to skip the European dates.
It was this decision that Moss decided to sue the band over in December 2019, claiming he was ‘told’ to ‘take a break’ by the band’s manager Paul Kemsley.
George publicly apologised to Moss in August 2020, saying: ‘We are having this court case so I thought I would call him as I thought I was really moved by the script and I was really moved by the story of how we met and I suddenly thought: ‘You know what, I forgot about all that.’
‘I forgot about all that really amazing stuff when I met him and you know how much I was in love with him and how it was so beautiful and exciting and all the stuff happened. It got lost in all this kind of bitterness and all this feuding.
‘So it was interesting for me to sit with Jon and go: ”Actually mate, I might have to apologise to you for some things.”’
It seems they finally able to bury the hatchet this week, at least in the courts, after reportedly settling for £1.75m.
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