They’ve had girls fainting at the sight of them. Shows halted mid-song because of the deafening screams of fans. They’ve worked with some of the greatest artists of all time, from Elvis to Jerry Lewis. And yet, even after 50-plus years of superstardom, you’d be hard–pressed to find a group of performers more down-to-earth than the Osmonds.
Outlasting almost all other boy bands in history, we loved the Osmonds for a reason. In a culture of celebs creating scandal, they’ve always come across as honest, wholesome performers. And we’re delighted to report that in real life, they really are as lovely and genuine as they seem.
What’s more, they love Christmas. Which is why this December, they’re bringing a very special show to the UK, packed to the rafters with festive cheer and dedicated to the man who helped launch their career: Andy Williams.
“Andy was our mentor and the one who created years of opportunity for us on his show,” says Merrill. “We want to carry on his legacy with our own Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular.” Never before seen in the UK, the Osmonds’ show will be a mix of classic festive songs and nostalgic footage of Andy from Christmases past.
“Andy was such a sweet man who made everyone feel special,” says Jimmy, who first appeared on Andy’s variety show aged three, singing Red Roses for a Blue Lady to millions of viewers. “But we were all a little intimidated by him because he was the boss. Our parents stressed we always had to be ready to deliver – the one-take Osmonds. It was a lot of pressure for us young kids. I think Andy would have actually liked a lot more interaction with us, but he loved us and always let us know that.
“He also let us be ourselves. After all, we were this weird little Mormon family that was into rock ‘n’ roll! But I think he identified with us because he’d grown up in a brothers’ quartet himself, so he allowed us to be who we wanted. We’ll never forget that he was the one who brought us to the dance.”
But while Andy was responsible for launching the Osmonds to fame, with the help of Walt Disney, it was those closer to home that spurred the family to strive for success. A little-known fact about the band is that they began performing in the late Fifties to raise money to buy hearing aids for their two deaf older brothers, who they call their ‘heroes’. The family also oversee the Children’s Miracle Network that their mother, Olive, set up, initially for the hearing impaired, but which now helps a staggering 17 million children yearly, facing all kinds of challenges.
And this philosophy of using their fame to good ends is one the brothers take very seriously. “God gives us talents to help others, so we believe where much is given, much is required. We’ve always felt a great responsibility to help lift other people and that’s what we try do in our shows,” says Jay. “It’s so wonderful when someone comes up to us and says your song helped me through a dark time in my life. Those words are more valuable to us than any money or fame” says Jay.
“Right from the start, our mum and dad taught us not to let our ego run away with us,” says Merrill. “We’ve grown up to appreciate every little thing that’s happened to us over the years. It’s all been about what we’ve started as a family.”
We’ve grown up to appreciate every little thing that’s happened to us over the years
And sharing the stage as brothers is something the trio still love more than ever, almost half a century from when it all started.
“I actually prefer touring so much more now,” says Jay. “Back then, it was such a whirlwind and we hardly had any time to say hi to our fans – or friends as we call them. But now we’re more relaxed. We can go see the English countryside and meet the people more.
“And many of our UK fans who first came to see us in the early Seventies have been so loyal over the years and brought their kids and grandkids to our concerts. That’s why we’re so excited to bring this festive show to the UK.”
But what about Christmas in the Osmond household? “When our parents were around, we’d try be in one house for Christmas but as the family has grown – I’ve got six kids and 14 grandchildren – that’s not been possible” says Merrill. “One thing we’ve always done since we were little – and continue to do now – is every Christmas Eve all of us open one present – and it’s always pyjamas. Some of the pyjamas our mother, and now my wife, made from fabric they picked out. So quite often, we’d all end up in look-alike pyjamas!”
At which point Jimmy and Jay burst out laughing. “Me and Jay don’t quite go that far,” says Jimmy. “Merrill is a very big Christmas fan!”
So after Christmas, what’s next for the Osmonds? “Sleeping,” jokes Jimmy. “I think we’ve reached a point in our lives now where whatever we do is just icing on the cake,” Merrill adds. “I just hope we can make good choices and carry on our legacy, like Andy’s, in a positive way,” says Jay.
We’re sure that won’t be a problem for these kind-hearted gents.
- The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular with the Osmonds tours nationwide from December 8-22. Contact your local theatre or visit www.osmond.com/tour-schedule