Rock & Roll Encyclopedia
Biography of The Osmonds, Donny Osmond, and Marie Osmond 1995 edition, Edited by Patricia Romanowski and Holly George-Warren
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Formed 1957, Ogden, Utah Alan Osmond (b. June 22, 1949, Ogden), vocals, guitar; Wayne Osmond (b. Aug. 28, 1951, Ogden), vocals, guitar, sax, banjo, bass, drums; Merrill Osmond (b. Apr. 30, 1953, Ogden), vocals, bass; Jay Osmond (b. Mar. 2, 1955, Ogden), drums; Donny Osmond (b. Donald Clark Osmond, Dec. 9, 1957, Ogden), vocals, keyboards; Marie Osmond (b. Oct. 13, 1959), vocals; Jimmy Osmond (b. Apr. 16, 1963, Canoga Park, Calif.), vocals, drums.
The Osmonds 1971 – The Osmonds (MGM); Homemade 1972 1972 – The Osmonds “Live”; Crazy Horses 1973 – The Plan 1974 – Love Me for a Reason 1975 – The Proud One; Around the World Love in Concert 1976 – Brainstorm (Polydor) 1977 – The Osmonds’ Greatest Hits. Marie Osmond solo 1973 – Paper Roses (MGM) 1974 – In My Little Corner of the World 1975 – Who’s Sorry Now 1977 – This Is the Way That I Feel 1985 – There’s No Stopping Your Heart (Curb) 1986 – I Only Wanted You 1988 – All in Love 1989 – Steppin’ Stone 1990 – The Best of Marie Osmond Donny Osmond solo 1971 – The Donny Osmond Album (MGM); To You with Love, Donny 1972 – Portrait of Donny; My Best to You 1973 – Alone Together 1989 – Donny Osmond (Capitol) 1990 – Eyes Don’t Lie Donny and Marie 1973 – I’m Leaving It All Up to You (MGM) 1976 – Donny & Marie-Featuring Songs from Their Television Show (Polydor); Donny & Marie-New Season 1978 – Goin’ Coconuts The Osmond Brothers (Alan, Wayne, Jay, and Merrill) 1992 – Greatest Hits (Curb)
The Osmonds are the King Family of pop and country music, and one of the longest-running family dynasties in popular music. Between January 24, 1971, and November 6, 1978, the RIAA certified a total of 23 gold discs recorded eeither by the Osmonds, or by Donny and Marie Osmond as solo acts or as a duo: five LPs and three singles by the Osmonds; four LPs and five singles by Donny; one single by Marie; and four LPs and one single by Donny and Marie. But their recording success, coming as it did nearly 15 years after the group formed, proved anything but a fluke. And although the various Osmond family members seemed to be treading water a decade ago, they have not only rebounded in their respective careers but carried the Osmond name in show business into its fourth decade with their children, in the Osmond Boys and the Osmonds Second Generation.
All of the Osmond progeny were taught music by their parents, George and Olive, and raised in a strict Mormon environment. They began singing religious and barbershop-quartet songs. Their big break came when in 1962 the Osmond Brothers (at the time, Alan, Jay, Merrill, and Wayne) went to Disneyland wearing identical suits and were invited to perform by the house barbershop quartet. They made their national television debut on “Disneyland After Dark,” a taped musical segment shown occasionally on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. On the recommendation of his father, Jay, Andy Williams auditioned them and invited them onto his TV variety series, where they appeared frequently from 1962 to 1971. In the mid-Sixties, the Osmonds (now with Donny) also did TV shows with Jerry Lewis and toured with Pat Boone and Phyllis Diller. By the time the boys began recording, they’d all learned to play instruments, and through diligent touring had become a mammoth MOR attraction.
Their 1971 debut LP went gold, as did Donny’s million-selling debut single, “Sweet and Innocent” (#7). Earlier that year, the brothers scored a gold hit with the Jackson 5-style “One Bad Apple” (#1). Other 1971 hit singles for the Osmonds included “Double Lovin'” (#14), “I Can’t Stop” (#96), and the million-selling “Yo-Yo” (#3); Donny hit gold again with “Go Away Little Girl” (#1). Their albums, for the most part, went gold as well.
Donny Osmond The year 1972 brought more hits: Donny’s “Hey Girl” b/w “I Knew You When” (#9) and the Osmonds’ “Down by the Lazy River” (#4) both went gold. The Osmonds had further hits with “Hold Her tight” (#14, 1972) and “Goin’ Home” (#36, 1973). Donny hit with singles “Puppy Love” (#3), “Why” (#13), and “Too Young” (#13) in 1972, and “The Twelfth of Never” (#8, 1973) and “A Million to One” b/w “Young Love” (#23, 1973).
At this time, Marie made her recording debut with the #1 country & western hit “Paper Roses” (#5 pop, 1973). Little Jimmy’s debut LP and single, “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool,” made the U.S. Top Forty in 1972 and topped the U.K. chart for six weeks. But he was most successful in Japan, where the plump nine-year-old was known affectionately as “Jimmy Boy” and later had his own television series. By the early Nineties, Jimmy had become the family’s business mastermind with a financial empire built on savvy real estate investments and events production.
Donny and Marie Marie changed her image to something a little hipper in the late Seventies and wrote a book entitled Marie Osmond’s Guide to Beauty and Dating. In the early Eighties she and Donny were most visible doing Hawaiian Punch TV commercials. In 1978 they costarred in the film Goin’ Coconuts. In early 1982 Donny appeared on Broadway in George M. Cohan’s musical Little Johnny Jones, which closed on opening night. In the mid-Eighties Maried cohosted the Ripley’s Believe It or Not TV series. She continues her success on the country charts with a number of hits including the C$W #1 singles “Meet Me in Montana” (a duet with Dan Seals, 1985), “There’s No Stopping Your Heart” (1985), and “You’re Still New to Me” (a duet with Paul Davis, 1986). In the early Nineties she toured in The Sound of Music.
Donny headed his own production company for a number of years before returning to recording in the late Eighties. Peter Gabriel invited Osmond to record in his Bath, England, studio. Some tracks recorded there landed Osmond a deal with Capital, and in 1988 his Donny Osmond (#54, 1989) spun off “Soldier of Love” (#2, 1989). Other charting singles from that album were “Sacred Emotion” (#13, 1989) and “Hold On” (#73, 1989). Eyes Don’t Lie didn’t make the Hot 100, but it contained “My Love Is a Fire” (#21, 1990). Osmond surprised many people by speaking out against the PMRC in 1985. He has continued to work in theater and appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The Osmond Brothers, sans Donny and plus Jimmy, turned to country music, with instant success. They were named Billboard’s top new singles group in 1992, and have since been named Branson, Missouri’s group of the year. There they own, operate, and perform at the Osmond Family Theater. The family founded the Osmond foundation for the deaf (two of the group’s older brothers were born deaf). In the early Eighties the foundation was expanded and is affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, which was cofounded by Marie and actor John Schneider and raises money for children’s hospitals.
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