‘Little’ Jimmy Osmond made his performance debut on the Andy Williams Show at the tender age of three. By age nine he’d scored a UK number one with ‘Long Haired Lover from Liverpool’.

Now, after more than 50 years in music, his career has come full-circle as he pays tribute to his hero and mentor in the nostalgic ‘A Tribute to Andy Williams – Moon River and Me’.

The show was conceived after Jimmy bought Andy’s Moon River Theatre in Missouri following his death, transforming it into the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre.

But the crooner – the youngest of the Osmond brothers – never expected it to be popular enough to transfer to the UK on a 36-date tour.

“You guys in the UK have been way too nice to me,” the 54-year-old laughs.

Jimmy’s admiration for Andy shines through and he credits a lot of his success to him.

The show, which arrives at the Crewe Lyceum next month, takes the audience back to a time when they worked together.

Jimmy said: “Andy really stuck his neck out for us, he was my inspiration, as well as my boss. Every one of us brothers had a different relationship with him. The Osmond’s legacy comes out of his. The people he introduced us to were priceless.

“I remember being his background singer at Ohio State Fair one time. He was singing Moon River on the grandstand and a moth got right into his mouth on his big last note – but he just swallowed it and kept singing! That’s how disciplined he was. His clothes were never wrinkled either.

“Later in life he built the Moon River theatre in Missouri and we were literally neighbours. So when he passed away, I bought the theatre to keep the legacy going.”

Jimmy adores visiting the UK and is overwhelmed by his popularity here.

“I’m lucky I’ve been able to do different projects in the UK like Masterchef and The Chase. I usually don’t get nervous, but with The Chase, I watch that show and wanted to do it,” he said.

“I got quite a lot of grief for the questions I got wrong on there, but the answers to them would have actually been different in America. Win or lose though, they’re all different experiences and it’s fun to try.

“It’s great fun to tour here too and I love going to places which are still immersed in that whole 60s vibe, because the show is a throwback.

“What’s cool to see is how many young people come to it. I did a gig last year and thought it would just be older people, but I was wrong.

“When I walk on stage here, whether it’s in a play, or maybe this show, hopefully in that moment I am your friend, because it’s not a job for me.”

Despite his passion for Andy’s music, he’s not sure how the singer would feel about the ‘tribute’.

Jimmy said: “He’d probably hate it, but his family do love it. They have been very helpful and supportive. Hopefully it’s respectful to him. He always used to say ‘I want to be remembered for the music’.”

Jimmy is joined onstage by former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Charlie Green.

“It’s fun to have Charlie sing, he was the one I wanted in the show before me actually, but people wanted that connection of me being in it,” he said.

“Charlie is such a good kid, an old soul. He started young like I did, and he’s had a lot of success with records oversees in Japan like I have, so we’ve had the same kind of experiences.

“But the success of ‘Moon River and Me’ shows how much Andy was loved.”
‘A Tribute to Andy Williams – Moon River and Me’ will be performed at the Crewe Lyceum from 7.30pm on Saturday, February 3. Tickets can be bought from the Crewe Lyceum box office on 01270 368 242 or at crewelyceum.co.uk.
Article originally posted at www.stokesentinel.co.uk