Story of the song: Karma Chameleon by Culture Club

From The Independent archive: Robert Webb on ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club

Boy George, Jon Moss, Roy Hay and Michael Craig in 1988

Culture Club’s flamboyant singer, Boy George, their drummer, Jon Moss, and guitarist Roy Hay were running through compositions for the band’s second album, Colour By Numbers. George stood up with a new song. “Karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon,” he recited, tunefully. The assembled company burst into laughter. Hay was convinced it would lose the band all credibility.

A peeved George took his song to Phil Pickett, the group’s fifth member. Together, Pickett and George worked on “Karma Chameleon”, and Pickett’s enthusiasm gradually brought the others round, although Hay maintained his hatred of the song.

But in 1983 the song topped the charts the world over, selling millions. George soon tired of having its chorus sung at him in the street. “I got sick of hearing it on the radio and miming to it on TV,” he said. “‘Karma’ was the kind of song everyone bought, and no one liked.”

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