George looks back on last experimental decade in music

Remarkably it’s 30 years ago next year that Culture Club hit the charts with their first single, launching the career of one of the most colourful and inventive characters in modern music.

The impact was huge; the fashions were outrageous; and Boy George - who will be DJing at Goodwood this summer - was the one to watch, pushing back the boundaries in a thrilling time to make music.

“When you are young, you think you are unstoppable,” says George who will celebrate his 50th birthday just a few days after his Goodwood gig.

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“You don’t really have any inhibitions when you are young. They come with age! I’ve been through a lot. I don’t know if I am any more inhibited now, but there is a magic that goes with being 19. It’s hard to putting it into words, but you don’t think about the rules, you don’t think how does it work. When you get older, you just know how it works.”

Looking back, he admits it’s hard to know just why Culture Club struck all the chords they did.

“I suppose it was a sign of the times. They were more liberal times in some ways. I know it was the beginning of Thatcher and there were the strikes and the rubbish in the streets and all sorts of awful things happening in the country. I know that at the time everybody hated the 80s, but in hindsight people were able to live and be different. It was the last great experimental decade in music.”

And Culture Club tapped directly into that: “It’s luck. It’s the timing. It’s the climate - the political climate. Also it depends what’s out there. There are so many different factors. Also the music scene was very different back then.”

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What goes around, comes around, though. George is planning to mark next year’s 30th anniversary with a Culture Club tour: “We are looking at maybe doing some recording. The last thing I did with Culture Club was about 13 years ago. We will just have to see how it goes. It’s very hard to predict!”

As he says, things have changed so much. Adele’s recent longevity at the top of the charts is somehow not of this time as things currently stand, more a throwback to the 80s, times when artists had the time to grow, when records could spend months climbing the charts, when everything was much less throwaway.

But George is far from lamenting the changes. You’ve just got to go with them: “For artists like me, the live situation has become much more important. Everyone can download, so it becomes much more about what you do as a person.

“Now you have got all the social networking. I am not a big nostalgia freak - though I think the past is important. It’s where you’ve come from.”

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For the moment, though, for Goodwood at least, it’s the DJ’ing side of his career that he is focusing on, joining an impressive June line-up when celebrity DJs take to the decks to spin sensational sounds after racing.

The Parade Ring will be transformed after the last race into a dance floor for racegoers to dance until late at the three Friday night meetings. Boy George will be on the decks on June 3, followed by Chris Evans on June 10 and Mark Ronson on June 17.

“It’s what I do,” George says. “My DJing takes me all over the world. It started off as a second job, just as more of a hobby, but it has really taken off. I got into the dance scene when the acid house scene exploded. When the first wave of manufactured bands came along, the acid house scene was much more exciting. I started to really get into dance music. I got asked if I would DJ at a club, and it just took off from there.”

Obviously, the most important thing is the music: “What you do as a DJ is inflict your favourite records! It’s your choice. These days with no record shops, you have got to search a lot more for interesting new tracks. There is always the internet and also you rely on friends sending you stuff.

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“But really the club scene is its own unique world. A lot of the music that people hear in the clubs you don’t hear unless you go to the clubs. It’s a very self-contained scene. But one of the things that I like about it is that you have total freedom. The punters obviously do have some influence on it, but what I do is mix up what I like.”

Free buses to the racecourse will run to and from Midhurst, Petworth and Petersfield town centres. There will also be free shuttle buses running from Chichester train station throughout the evening.

To discuss hospitality requirements call the Goodwood team on 01243 755072.