Jimmy Osmond talks Moon River and Masterchef

Echo | October 5, 2016 | Catherine Jones

Jimmy Osmond is on his way back to Liverpool.

And believe it or not, the former round-faced, cheeky-grinned, flare-wearing kid who took Long Haired Lover From Liverpool to the Christmas number one spot is celebrating 50 years in showbiz.

The 53-year-old is marking the half-century by celebrating not HIS contribution to music, but that of his mentor Andy Williams.

It was the late singer who gave the Osmonds their first big break, on his TV show.

And he and ‘little’ Jimmy became firm friends – a friendship that endured until Williams’ death in 2012.

I caught up with the youngest Osmond ahead of his Philharmonic Hall show to talk Moon River, melodies and Masterchef.

Tell me about Moon River and Me.

Jimmy Osmond performing at the Philharmonic Hall in 2012

This show is to celebrate and kind of commemorate the fact that I made it 50 years, and I’m following through on a promise that I made to Andy.

Because this really was a pet project of his.

I may be the conduit or the connectivity with Andy, because I worked with him so closely, but this really is a celebration of his music. It’s not really about me and that’s what I hope comes through when people come.

It’s a lot more of an intimate show than I’ve ever done before. And I’m kind of out there on my own quite a bit, and, you know, to be honest with you, in the UK, that’s one place I feel comfortable to do that.

Because I’ve kind of grown up there, you guys have allowed me to just be myself.

I’ve got a great cast of singers and performers on the show. It should be great fun.

Catherine Ashmore | Emma Barton as Roxie Hart and Jimmy Osmond as Billy Flynn in Chicago, 2013

There’s an incredible catalogue of music to choose from. How do you decide what to perform?

Oh it’s ridiculous. It’s great.

I vary it a little. To be honest with you, the arrangements and the style of the show, and with so much video – I have this massive LED screen on stage, you have to keep the core ones.

But it was easy for me, because I picked the songs that I remembered meant something to me. And songs we’d sung with him.

I also sing Crazy Horses and Love Me For a Reason, and those kinds of songs. But it depends what people want that night.

How did you get to know Andy Williams?

Jimmy Osmond with his brothers and Andy Williams

We were his regular featured artists. It was really my brothers and I just decided to join, because I guess I thought that was normal, and it was just kind of a fun thing.

He mentored us by surrounding us with the best, and always demanding, more so of my brothers than myself, that we come up with something new every week to stay on television.

But after that happened, I kind of got to know him totally differently to the way the rest of my family did, because I started getting involved in production and behind the scenes, and owning theatres.

And that’s what he did too.

The Osmond family in London, 1979

I lived four houses down from him and it was so cute because he’d go on his little walks with his dogs, and he’d stop and say hi and we’d shoot the breeze about our theatres.

We tried different marketing things together, and we’d co-opt how to promote and bring in new products.

I sold my theatre and we were working at his theatre, and he said: “Jimmy, will you please keep this going.”

So I was a bit nervous about that but I did, I stepped up and bought his theatre and he gave me all his footage, and three years later I’m producing 400 shows there a year.

You were three when you started performing with your brothers – and nine when you had your massive solo hit with Long Haired Lover From Liverpool.

Jimmy Osmond – Long Haired Lover From Liverpool

I always get a bit nervous coming to Liverpool, because you kind of feel like you belong there a little bit, you know?

And when I first recorded that song, that’s unmentionable to all Liverpudlians, I never knew where Liverpool was.

Since then I’ve been quite a bit and I feel like one of you guys. So I always feel a bit like it’s coming home and I want to deliver.

Is it true your mum picked the song for you?

I was the first one in my family to actually record and have a hit record, when I was five (My Little Darling, which he recorded in Japanese).

So then my brothers started doing One Bad Apple and some of these other hits, and my mum didn’t want to have me left behind.

Jimmy Osmond

She found a couple of songs. Long Haired Lover, was actually a produced record and was released, and it didn’t really do anything. So mum said, why don’t you have Jimmy sing on it?

So I sang on it, and it became the biggest selling record in our catalogue.

How did the others feel about that?

Oh I love to rub it in!

Most recently you’ve been on our screens in Celebrity Masterchef – what was the experience like for you?

Jim Lersch | Jimmy Osmond

My little girl and I love to cook – my youngest, she’s 14, at home, it’s like her hobby.

So when the opportunity to do Masterchef came up, it was really to promote this tour, and I thought well hey, that’s such a cool programme, but I really want to do it for my little girl you know?

It was really hard.

I was runner up, which was pretty cool. It was totally fair, don’t get me wrong, I was totally happy and loved the experience with everybody, but I was the only one who cooked straight through.

Because normally, people would do heats and would do a few weeks and have a month or two months off if they’re in the finals or semi-finals.

And mine, I went over there and it was non stop. I thought I’d be there a week and I was there a month. Every day, cooking. I gained, like, 10-15lbs. Since then I’ve got it off.

But all you did was eat, drink, eat, sleep and cook. It was intense.

And you made Moon River chicken pot pie!

Martin Birchall | Andy Williams performing at the Summer Pops in Liverpool

I told you I was trying to promote the tour!

It was legitimate. Andy’s been on my mind for the past three years because it’s a lot of shows I’m doing and trying to keep things going that way.

And that sincerely was a recipe that his mum…that was his comfort food, and he ended up passing it to us because his mum and my mum were good buddies.

I added my twist to it, but I thought it turned out good. It almost cost me the thing because they didn’t think it was that much skill in cooking, but to me, what’s the difference?

They didn’t tell us it was anything but a tribute to someone you care about, when you cooked.

So had I known that I probably would have tried something fancier. But taste wise, it’s yum, it’s really good.

Jimmy Osmond brings Moon River and Me to the Philharmonic Hall on October 26. Book tickets HERE

Originally posted article on the Liverpool Echo

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