HE may have met Elvis and Frank Sinatra when he was a little boy and first sung on stage at the age of three, but Jimmy Osmond is amazingly down to earth, writes Julia Armstrong.
Jimmy, youngest of the Osmond family who were teenage idols in the 1970s, appears alongside brothers Merrill and Jay, plus other big names, in Boogie Nights, at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.
TICKETS: From £29.50 each, may be subject to a booking fee. Buy in person, call 0114 2789 789 or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.
Amazingly, the Osmond family celebrated 50 years in showbusiness last year.
The man who burst into the pop charts with Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool as a chubby-cheeked nine-year-old said: “People like it if you take the mickey out of yourself. Having lived in England for so many years, I get it.
“You take yourself a little too serious and no-one feels comfortable around you. Donny’s finally got to that place too. He is who he is and he’s grateful for it.
“It’s fun to look back at whatever you made and embrace it. People know I don’t take myself seriously at all. I’m comfortable to have fun with it. I’d rather have that as part of my history than not. At the same time it’s about making people happy.”
Jimmy said of Boogie Nights, which he is returning to after 10 years: “It’s the greatest fun. It was my first musical in the UK. It’s really the music I grew up with and the music of all of our lives.
“Because it’s about the 1970s everyone comes along knowing the music. One member of the audience came up to say ‘thank you for playing the music of my life. I was able to share that with my daughter’.”
Jimmy said the audience become part of the show. “People are singing along to the songs like YMCA and doing the actions. It’s quite fun. Some people really get into it.”
The Osmonds are appearing in Boogie Nights for the first time because they had a great time performing to celebrate their big anniversary and asked to join Jimmy when they heard he was in it. Their big hits Crazy Horses and Love Me For a Reason have now been worked into the show. Sadly Wayne cannot join them as he had a stroke last year.
There is a new generation of Osmonds who show musical talent and Jimmy performed with his four children last year in the US in a show called Jimmy Osmond’s Jukebox. He said: “They definitely had musical and stage presence. They’ve seen us doing it for so many years but it’s a different world than when we were doing it. It was precious to see them doing seriously.”
He said he would support any of his children who want to perform but isn’t pushing them. After all, his own childhood was pretty unusual.
“If they do, I’ll be right with them. It’s got a lot of slippery slopes. As kids we did it together of course but look what I did. I had the experience to perform for the Queen and play all over the world. Who does that? My mum and dad were very concerned that we never thought we were all that.
“I really look back fondly on it and don’t want it to end.”
He remembers meeting Elvis many times when both bands performed at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.
“He was so cool. He let us stay in his suite at the top of the Hilton. He would talk to my mother. He was going to be a preacher and his own mother had passed away. He’d send treats and flower guitars.” It was Elvis who suggested that The Osmonds should wear jumpsuits like his, made by the same tailor, Bill Balou.
Years later, Jimmy was delighted to find out that the different coloured scarves The Osmonds wore on stage inspired the makers of Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles to do the same with their characters.
He also remembers that Frank Sinatra was the first person to contribute to a charity the family set up to help deaf people, as Jimmy’s two eldest brothers are deaf. He also gave the family excellent advice on their choice of business manager.
He said: “In our day they happened to be the top celebrities but they were real people. I’m so grateful I got to know so many of them.”
Boogie Nights the 70s Musical is at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday (April 2).