Jimmy Osmond on his 50 years on showbiz: ‘My song was so cheesy, even I hated it’

Now 53, Jimmy admits his most famous record, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, was not everybody’s cup of tea

 John Alevroyiannis / Sunday Mirror
Jimmy Osmond
Jimmy Osmond has lifted the lid on his 50 years in showbiz

With his floppy fringe, chubby cheeks and mile-wide toothy smile Little Jimmy Osmond exploded on to the 1970s music scene like a rhinestone and saccharine pop bomb.

The nine-year-old Osmond brother landed in the UK to blast Chuck Berry and his Ding-A-Ling off the top of the charts and became the youngest singer to hit No 1.

But his record, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, was not everybody’s cup of tea… as big Jimmy Osmond cheerily admits when we meet 44 years later over a pot of Rosie lee.

“It was a really cheesy song,” he tells the Sunday People, showing off those famous Osmond molars.

“Some people hated it – heck, I even hated it myself for a while!

“I was the cheesy mascot kid of the family and my novelty record really irritated some people.”

Jimmy Osmond performing on stage with Merrill

Jimmy Osmond performing on stage with Merrill in the 1970s

But enough to want to kidnap Little Jimmy… and blow up his siblings?

“Oh no,” says Jimmy, calmly sipping his peppermint tea, “that was the Symbionese Liberation Army”.

For, surreal as it seems, Jimmy reveals he and his family were targeted by the left-wing revolutionary group amid threats of kidnap.

Jimmy, now 53 and marking 50 years in showbiz, says: “There were also threats the group would bomb Osmonds concerts.Michael Michael

Jimmy Osmond of The Osmonds

Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy says he was the “cheesy mascot” of the family

“It went to the FBI. We had guards and I had to wear this big panic button.”

Readers under 40 may be unaware of how Osmondmania swept the globe after Jimmy’s 1972 No 1.

But the Osmond brothers, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny and Jimmy, along with sister Marie, sold more than 102 million records.

Squeaky-clean and devout Mormons, they grew up in Utah and got their big break on the Andy Williams TV show in the 1960s.

Jimmy Osmond

Michael Putland/Getty Images

Osmondmania swept the globe after Jimmy’s 1972 No 1

Donny and Marie later forged their own partnership but Jimmy continued performing with his brothers. He also built a property business, ran his own burger joint, became an award-winning TV producer, wrote and illustrated a children’s book and still runs the Osmond Foundation.

And he represented artists like Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi in Japan where he’s been a huge star since the age of five when his record My Little Girl went gold.

Britons took genial Jimmy to their hearts in 2005 after he smuggled a talking teddy into the jungle in I’m A Celebrity. Last month he won more fans with his easy-going charm on Celebrity MasterChef .

American pop group The Osmonds, circa 1975

The Osmonds, circa 1975, had hits across the world

Now Jimmy is touring the UK with Moon River & Me – a unique Andy Williams tribute show full of nostalgia, memories of his mentor and tales of the fan frenzy that might have sent other child stars off the rails.

Jimmy insists he came through it unscarred. But just occasionally you get a sense of how lonely and confusing it must have been for a boy who never went to school and only really had his siblings as friends.

He says: “It was fever pitch back then. At Heathrow in 1972 there were so many fans that a balcony collapsed under the weight.

“There were 5,000 screaming girls at our hotel threatening to break in – so the fire brigade hosed them away.

Alan Osmand, Jimmy Osmond, Marie Osmond, Donnie Osmond, Merrill Osmond, Jay Osmond, Osmond

REX/Shutterstock

Jimmy says there were threats to bomb Osmonds concerts

“We were smuggled into the back of bread vans like Mission Impossible. Exciting, but it could get scary. When you’re a kid you almost feel you’ve done something wrong. I was once dragged into a crowd by my hair and that was pretty alarming.

“So guards would shut me in a case to carry me out. It was wild but my parents went out of their way to ensure we knew this wasn’t normal. Our individual successes were never celebrated. It sounds harsh but my parents didn’t want any one of us thinking we were special.

“Even when I was No1 my dad made me take the trash out. And Donny was the golden child so you always felt like second fiddle. But I wasn’t jealous. Donny was – is – my best buddy and still my neighbour.”

Jimmy Osmond

John Alevroyiannis / Sunday Mirror

Jimmy isn’t quite so little these days

When Jimmy was 16 the Osmonds split to pursue solo work. Until they discovered advisors had rifled £65million of their fortune.

Handling rights for Jacko’s 1987 Bad tour helped Jimmy recover. He wed in 1991 to Michelle, 50 – his first lover under Mormon rules which also ban alcohol and stimulants.

Jimmy says: “I’m a red-blooded guy and, yes, there were temptations. But faith and fear of my parents made it easy to say no! I’m glad I waited until my wedding night.

“Michelle was my first gal and my only gal and we have a wonderful relationship.” They have four children – Sophia, 22, Zachary, 18, Wyatt, 16, and Bella, 14 – and 35 nephews and nieces.

Jimmy Osmond and Rachael Bletchly

Sunday Mirror

Jimmy with Sunday Mirror’s Rachael Bletchly

Jimmy said: “The family just grows and grows and we don’t all get together that much. But I’m touring at Christmas with Jay and Merrill.”

Eldest brothers Virl and Tom were born deaf and never performed with their siblings. Alan, 69, who led the group, has MS while Wayne, 65, is recovering from a brain tumour. And Jimmy had his own scare 13 years ago. He had a mini stroke and doctors spotted a hole in the heart.

It was genetic and tests revealed his youngest daughter, three brothers and several nephews all had it. Ever upbeat, he adds: “So my crisis helped family members – a wonderful thing.”

I have a confession for Jimmy before I leave. I was an Osmond fan from the age of eight, adored Donny and wanted to marry him… but I REALLY hated Long Haired Lover.

Jimmy beams: “Wanted to marry Donny? You and six million others! Hey, I know I wasn’t the cool one and maybe never had Donny’s success, but I’m different. I’m my own guy.”

  • Jimmy Osmond is on tour with A Tribute To Andy Williams – Moon River & Me from September 26. Go to jimmyosmond.com. The Osmonds are on tour as part of The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular nationwide from December 14. See ticketmaster.co.uk.

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