It was an absolute joy seeing Boy George again for the first time in many years. He came to DJ and help us celebrate laying the keel for Virgin Voyages in Genoa. It was great seeing him looking so incredibly well and healthy – the last time I saw him I was trying to help him get off drugs.
Back then, he sadly lost many close friends from heroin overdoses and things weren’t looking too good for him back in. I managed to persuade him to come to my house in the country and I found a good doctor to come and work with him and help him get clean. Things were looking up and I felt he was starting to get better.
However, the press got wind of his location and I got a call to tell me the paparazzi were crowding outside the front gate. The Sun newspaper had run an editorial howling for his arrest, which I objected to enormously. Being arrested was the last thing he needed while he was trying to recover.
He had to try and get away from the press without being seen and we had to crawl for three miles across fields through long grass to escape.
Unfortunately, he was arrested soon after and he slipped back into his drug problem.
So it was an absolute delight for me to fly with him recently for a few hours on our way to Italy. We regaled each other with stories from the past and he was on incredible form and hasn’t touched drink or drugs in 15 years. George said he’s so blessed that his life is so extraordinary and fun and I agree. When we came through Genoa airport the immigration officers were literally dancing on the table and playing 'do you really want to hurt me' at full volume. Its incredible how he's still so well recognised after all these years.
We had a big party to celebrate the laying of the keel with George on the decks and giving us a wonderful performance. We really had to pinch ourselves that night – it felt so extraordinary to be laying a keel for Virgin Voyages new ship. The last time we were together I was running the world’s largest independent record label and George was producing some of the world’s top hits.
The Genoa shipyard has probably never had such a party before and it’s unlikely to happen again – except maybe for when the first Virgin Voyages ship goes into the water.