Youngest of the Osmonds is back in his motherland

By Twm Owen

Jimmy Osmond, who shot to fame with his brothers and sister Marie in the 1970s, speaks to Twm Owen about his tribute show to Andy Williams which he is bringing to Theatr Brycheiniog next month.

“I NEVER thought showbusiness would last for me,” says Jimmy Osmond – the youngest of the siblings who shot to fame as the pop phenomenon the Osmonds.

Clearly the 54-year-old should have had more faith as 50 years on from his first gold record he is still performing and will this month appear in Brecon as part of a 36-date UK tour.

The man, whose 1972 number one, Long Haired Lover from Liverpool, saw him become the youngest singer to top the UK charts, will bring his tribute show to Andy Williams – Moon River & Me to Theatr Brycheiniog.

Williams, the archetypal crooner and all-round entertainer, set Jimmy and his siblings, from the Mormon state of Utah, on the road to stardom when he invited them to perform on his US television show which they would do regularly throughout the 1960s.

Today, when he isn’t performing concerts, in musical theatre, or taking part in programmes such as Celebrity Masterchef, Jimmy is the brains behind the family’s entertainment business and has run the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre, in Branson, Missouri, since 2014.

“Andy Williams’ estate, that is his children, and Andy before he died gave me the rights to the show and I bought his theatre. I used to run the Osmond Theatre and we were neighbours and friends.

“I call the show Andy Williams – Moon River & Me. Andy has affected my life since the beginning,” says Jimmy of the singer who died, aged 84, in 2012.

“Our careers grew out of performing on his show, which was kind of like performing on Britain’s Got Talent.”

In the show Jimmy performs alongside a hologram image of Williams, the voice of hits such as Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Music to Watch Girls By, and it also features 20-year-old singer Charlie Green, from Worcestershire, who first found fame as an 11-year-old singing a Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008.

“It’s a tribute to my friend Andy. I put Charlie in the show, who is probably about Andy’s age when he started, but I just felt it needed a connection to somebody who was there.

“It’s not just about me but our hits, our whole being, came from working with Andy so we might put in One Bad Apple, Crazy Horses or Love Me for a Reason, in there.

“The show is quite inventive, there is a hologram of Andy and I sing with him, there’s film of people he worked with like Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra who all became his friends.

“But there’s not a lot of talking. It is about the music as that is what Andy wanted to be remembered for.”

Though Jimmy started his career at the top – and the enduring popularity and appeal of the Osmond name means his last interview immediately before talking with The Brecon & Radnor Express, was live on ITV breakfast show, Good Morning Britain – he doesn’t miss the 1970s superstardom.

“Your career takes on different forms and I still do a lot of shows, like I just did my friends on Countdown the game show, but I’ve never measured myself by likes on Facebook or Twitter. I never got into showbusiness for popularity it was about are you able to do a craft and we still have an audience and find new fans, and I call them friends because they’ve stuck with us.

“The 70s was hysteria and to be honest, back in those days, it was quite frightening. I was just a little boy and I used to get taken in and out of the back of venues in a trunk.

“It was mayhem and you didn’t get to spend time talking to people afterwards or get to create friendships, it was just one venue to another and you wouldn’t see anyone but press people it was not a great way to live your life but I cherish those days as they were so unique.”

But Jimmy says he prepared for a life behind the scenes: “I never thought showbusiness would last for me. I have always been in showbusiness but I always thought when this is over what am I going to do?

“But it’s what I love so I was always interested in being the camera man, or the set design man, I did all these jobs over the years.”

Jimmy’s career has lasted though and has given him the chance to see more of the world as he tours, including Wales where his mother’s family originate from. His brother Donny took part in a television show tracing the family’s Welsh roots, which stretch back more than 500 years in Merthyr Tydfil, and Jimmy used panto in Swansea as a chance to get to know the country including Brecon.

“My mother’s side of the family are from Merthyr and when I was performing in Swansea I drove around all the different locations my ancestors, like my great, great grandfather would have been.

“He was a surgeon back in the coal mines. It is such a beautiful part of the world, depending on the time of the year.”

Jimmy Osmond performs at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon on Friday, February 23. See www.theatrbrycheiniog.ticketsolve.com for ticket information.

Article originally posted at The Brecon & Radnor Express

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