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The Osmonds are an American family music group with a long and varied career that took them from singing barbershop music as children, to achieving success as teen-music idols, to producing a hit television show, and to continued success as solo and group performers. The Osmonds are devout Mormons, and their religious values have influenced their careers.

The group originally consisted of brothers Alan Osmond, Wayne Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Jay Osmond. They were later joined by younger siblings Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, and Jimmy Osmond.

Older brothers George Virl Osmond, Jr. (Virl) and Tom Osmond were born deaf and did not originally perform, although they later made occasional appearances, most notably on the family Christmas specials from the 70s.

All of the Osmonds were born in their hometown of Ogden, Utah except Jimmy, who was born in Canoga Park, California.

The Osmonds' Story

Early years: barbershop and variety shows

The Osmond Brothers' career began in 1958 when Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay began singing barbershop music for local audiences in and around their hometown of Ogden, Utah. In the made-for-TV movie " Inside the Osmonds," the Osmonds explain that they originally performed to earn money to support Virl and Tom in buying hearing aids and serving missions for the Mormon church. Despite their young ages (in 1958 Alan was 9, Wayne 7, Merrill 5, and Jay 3), within a few years, the boys' talent and stage presence were strong enough that their father, George Osmond, took them to audition for Lawrence Welk in California. Welk turned them down, but on the same trip, they visited Disneylandmarker, and they were hired to perform there[81380] after joining an adult barbershop quartet for some impromptu singing.

While the Osmond Brothers were performing at Disneyland, Andy Williams' father saw them and was so impressed he told his son to book them for his television show. Andy did, and the Osmond Brothers were regulars on The Andy Williams' show from 1962-1969, where they earned the nickname "one-take Osmonds" because of their professionalism and tireless rehearsing. Donny soon joined them on the show, making the Osmond Brothers a 5-person group. Marie and Jimmy were introduced on the show as well. During this time, the Osmonds also toured Europe, performing with Sweden's most popular singer, Lars Lönndahl.

The Osmond Brothers were regulars on the Jerry Lewis Show in 1969, and they continued to tour and perform with Andy Williams. But soon the Osmond Brothers decided they wanted to perform popular music and shed their variety-show image. They wanted to become a rock-and-roll band. This change was a difficult one for their father, who was suspicious of rock and roll. But he was persuaded, and the boys began performing as a band. They achieved only modest success at first, but in 1971, everything changed.

The Osmonds: a pop music success

Record producer Mike Curb saw the Osmonds (no longer called "The Osmond Brothers") perform as a band and recognized that they combined a rare mix of polished performing style, instrumental skill, and vocal talent. He helped the Osmonds get a record contract with MGM, and arranged for them to record at Muscle Shoalsmarker with R&B producer Rick Hall. Under Hall's guidance, the Osmonds exploded onto the pop-music scene, hitting #1 on the Billboard pop chart with "One Bad Apple" in 1971. The Osmonds soon had hits with other light, R&B-style pop numbers like "Double Lovin'" (Billboard #14) and "Yo-Yo" (#3).

After the early bubblegum phase, the Osmonds began writing their own music, and their sound moved toward rock and roll with hits like "Hold Her Tight" (Billboard #14), "Crazy Horses" (#14) and "Down by the Lazy River" (#4). The Crazy Horses album was the band's first really personal statement--the brothers have been quoted as saying that the title song refers to air pollution from cars. They wrote all the songs and played all the instruments with Alan on rhythm guitar, Wayne on lead guitar, Merrill on lead vocals and bass, Jay on drums, and Donny on keyboards. All the brothers sang back-up, with Jay and Donny sometimes singing lead parts.

Rock and roll and Osmondmania

With their clean-cut image, their talent, and their energetic pop-rock sound, the Osmonds' popularity in the early 1970s was nearly unmatched. They toured to crowds of screaming fans in the U.S., and they even had a short-lived Saturday-morning cartoon series on ABC-TV during 1972-1973. By this time the Osmonds had broken through in England as well: All members of the Osmond family, counting group and solo recordings, charted 13 singles on the UK charts during 1973. Some observers coined a new word, "Osmondmania," to describe the phenomenon.

But changes and challenges soon arrived. The older boys were of age to go on Mormon missions, yet they believed they could reach more people through their music. The Osmonds viewed their music as their mission. As a part of their mission, they recorded an ambitious album in 1973 called The Plan, perhaps best described as a Mormon concept album with progressive rock aspirations. One reviewer suggested that The Plan carried a too-strong religious message--Mormonism is, after all, fairly conservative and not usually associated with the themes of rock and roll. He likewise suggested that the music was too varied and experimental. The album produced only two modest hits: "Let Me In" and "Goin' Home" both peaked at #36 on the Billboard charts. What's more, the older boys began to marry and may have wanted to reduce the regular touring that is a necessity in popular music.

Solo careers take off

Then Donny, and to a lesser extent, Marie and Jimmy, began to emerge as solo artists. Jimmy had hit in Japan, and in 1972 had a #1 hit in the United Kingdom with "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool." Marie hit #1 on the U.S. country charts in 1973 with "Paper Roses"--she was only 13 at the time. And Donny achieved near-superstar status. He had a string of pop hits in the early 1970s, including "Go Away Little Girl" (Billboard #1), "Puppy Love" (#3), and "The Twelfth of Never" (#8). From 1971 to 1976, he had 12 top-40 hits, including 5 in the top 10.

Donny's popularity, and his numerous solo hits, have led many to assume he was the group's lead. But Merrill was the lead singer and voice of the Osmonds. Donny's emergence as a solo star, and the record-company's desire to appeal to the teen-girl audience, often thrust Donny out in front of the group. This created tension in the family and was particularly difficult for Merrill.

By now the family was touring, recording, creating, and producing for 5 technically separate artists: The Osmonds, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, and Jimmy Osmond--plus Donny and Marie had begun recording duets and had hits with "I'm Leaving It Up to You" (Billboard #4) and "Morning Side of the Mountain" (#8). Through all the stress and pressures created by these many efforts, the family hung together. "Inside the Osmonds" depicts the family mottoes as being "It doesn't matter who's out front, as long as it's an Osmond" and "Family, faith, and career. In that order."

The original Osmonds as a group still produced hits. In 1974, "Love Me for a Reason" reached #10 on the U.S. pop charts and went to #1 in the U.K. To watch a video of the 5 Osmonds, with Merrill as lead, performing "Love Me for a Reason" is to see a precursor of the love-ballad boy bands of the 1990s and 2000s.[81381]. Indeed, the Irish boy band Boyzone took the song to #2 on the U.K. charts in 1994.[81382]

Donny and Marie: the show and its challenges

By 1976, though, the group's record sales were softening, and the Osmonds poured themselves into a new venture: The older brothers began producing The Donny & Marie Show, which was a hit on ABC from 1976-1979. But the success came at a cost. The family built and operated, at great expense, a first-class studio where the show was produced. As a result, the Osmonds as a performing band became a third or fourth priority to the careers of Donny and Marie, the success of the show, and the operation of the family studio. The older brothers deferred or gave up their dreams of being a rock-and-roll band. Donny experienced stage anxiety, a type of social phobia, and Marie had a brief bout with an eating disorder after a network executive told her she looked heavy. When the show was canceled, the Osmonds found themselves in debt and without a clear direction.

They recovered and eventually paid their debts and re-established their careers. But the various Osmond artists and enterprises began to operate separately.

Post "Donny and Marie show"

Jimmy worked as a businessman and manager. He eventually moved to Branson, Missourimarker, and opened the Osmond Family Theater, where he and his brothers performed until 2002. They now appear in Branson during the Christmas season.

Marie recorded a number of successful duets with Donny and continued to sing country music; she had several top-40 country hits in the mid 1980s, the biggest of which was "Meet Me in Montana" with Dan Seals (country #1). She starred in the Broadway musicals The King and I (as Anna) and The Sound of Music (as Maria) in the mid-1990s. She returned to television first in the short-lived 1995 ABC sitcom Maybe This Time and then with Donny in 1998 to co-host Donny & Marie, a talk/entertainment show that lasted two seasons. She also sells a line of high-end dolls. She is the mother of 8 children, 5 of whom were adopted.[81383]

Donny returned to the pop-music scene in the mid 1980s and had 2 top-40 hits: "Sacred Emotion" (Billboard #13) and "Soldier of Love" (#2). He performed on Broadway as Gaston in the stage production of Beauty and the Beast, and also gave over 2,000 performances as Joseph in the touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He has hosted games shows, continues to appear on television, won the ninth season (Fall 2009) of ABC's Dancing with the Stars and still tours in the U.S. and England. Donny has 5 sons.[81384]

Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay formed a country group and returned to using the name "The Osmond Brothers." They had 2 top-40 country hits in the early 1980s: "I Think About Your Lovin'" (Country #17) and "It's Like Fallin' in Love (Over and Over)" (#28). They had other country successes, but mostly did not tour, preferring to stay in Branson and perform. The brothers continue to perform with various line-ups and sometimes with their children in Branson. Merrill performs and records as a solo artist as well. Alan has multiple sclerosis, and he does not perform as much today. All of the brothers are married, with some of them having large families. Alan's eight sons started performing in the mid-1980s as "The Osmond Boys," now known as " The Osmonds--Second Generation."[81385]

In 2007-2008 all the Osmonds went on a world tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their career in show business. A special televised concert in Las Vegas, commemorating the anniversary, aired on U.S. PBS stations on March 10, 2008. Alan played piano with the orchestra for most of the show and Virl and Tom provided signed lyrics for two songs. The Osmonds' long time friend and mentor Andy Williams made a surprise appearance, reminiscing about how his father had told him to put the brothers on his variety show.

In 2009, Donnie and Marie Osmond will record a television special for the British channel ITV1. An Audience with Donnie and Marie is the latest in ITV's long running An Audience with... series and will be based on their Las Vegas stage show.

Osmond parents

Olive Osmond, mother of the Osmond siblings, died in 2004 at age 79. Their father, George Osmond, died in 2007 at age 90. Before his death, plans were being made for him and the 120+ members of the Osmond family to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show to celebrate the family's 50th anniversary in show business. He passed away just a few days prior to the show being taped. The family ultimately decided to go on with the show as scheduled, and on Thursday, November 9, the entire Osmond family appeared on stage with Oprah Winfrey as a tribute to their father. The show aired the following day, the same day as Mr. Osmond's funeral.

Discography

Albums

Year Album information Peak chart positions
US US Country
1962 Songs We Sang on the Andy Williams Show
  • Label: MGM Records E-4146
1962 We Sing You A Merry Christmas
  • Label: MGM Records MS-543
1963 Preview: The Travels of Jamie McPheeters
  • Label: MGM Records MS-543
1963 More Songs We Sang on the Andy Williams Show
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4235
1964 The Osmond Brothers Sing the All Time Hymn Favorites
  • Label: MGM Records
1964 The New Sound of The Osmond Brothers Singing More Songs They Sang on the Andy Williams Show
  • Label: MGM Records E-4291
1970 Hello! The Osmond Brothers
  • Label: Denon International CD-77
1970 Osmonds
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4724
14
1971 Homemade
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4770
22
Phase III
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4796
10
1972 The Osmonds Live
  • Label: MGM Records 2SE-4826
13
Crazy Horses
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4871
14
1973 The Plan
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4902
58
1974 Love Me for a Reason
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4939
47
1975 The Proud One
  • Label: MGM/Polydor
160
Around the World: Live in Concert
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-5012
148
1976 Brainstorm
  • Label: Polydor/Kolob Records
145
The Osmonds Christmas Album
  • Label: Polydor/Kolob Records
127
1977 The Osmonds Greatest Hits
  • Label: Polydor Records PD-2-9005
192
1979 Steppin' Out
  • Label: Mercury SRM-1-3766
1982 The Osmond Brothers
  • Label: Elektra Asylum Records 60180
54
1984 One Way Rider
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records 1-25070
57
2008 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert
  • Label: Denon 17678
177


Singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US US AC US Country CAN UK
1971 "One Bad Apple" 1 37 1 Osmonds
"Double Lovin'" 14 9 Homemade
"Yo-Yo" 3 1 Phase III
1972 "Down by the Lazy River" 4 1 40
"Hold Her Tight" 14 6 Crazy Horses
"We Can Make it Together" (w/ Steve and Eydie) 68 7 single only
"Crazy Horses" 14 12 2 Crazy Horses
1973 "Goin' Home" 36 30 4 The Plan
"Let Me in" 36 4 2
1974 "I Can't Stop" 12 Love Me for a Reason
"Love Me for a Reason" 10 2 18 1
1975 "Having a Party" 28
"The Proud One" 22 1 25 5 The Proud One
"I'm Still Gonna Need You" 38 32
1976 "I Can't Live a Dream" 46 38 70 37 Brainstorm
"Back on the Road Again"
1982 "I Think About Your Lovin'" 17 The Osmond Brothers
"It's Like Falling in Love (Over and Over)" 28
"Never Ending Song of Love" 43
1983 "She's Ready for Someone to Love Her" 67 One Way Rider
1984 "Where Does an Angel Go When She Cries" 43
"One Way Rider"
"If Every Man Had a Woman Like You" 39 singles only
1985 "Anytime" 54
"Baby, When Your Heart Breaks Down" 56
1986 "Baby Wants" 45
"You Look Like the One I Love" 69
"Looking for Suzanne" 70
1987 "Slow Ride"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


References

  1. Biography: The Osmonds, Pure and Simple (documentary)
  2. Biography: The Osmonds, Pure and Simple (documentary)
  3. "Inside the Osmonds" (DVD)
  4. http://www.osmondbros.com/history.htm
  5. Life is Just What You Make It: My Story So Far by Donny Osmond and Patricia Romanowski
  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ST4NLi31PQ
  7. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/discography/index.jsp?pid=5356&aid=55408
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donny_Osmond
  9. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/commissioning/osmonds-to-reunite-for-itv1-special/5004457.article


External links




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