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Donny And Marie Live
In a career that stretches across five decades, there is one song Donny Osmond admits will always haunt him.
“On my headstone it will say: ‘Here lies the person who sang Puppy Love,’” he laughs.
“I have come to terms with it – you have to, otherwise you will be in pain all your life.
“Reinventing myself has always been a part of my life.”
It was a highpoint of his 1970s career as a teenage pop idol, adored by recent collaborator Susan Boyle among others.
This UK tour of his Las Vegas show with sister Marie – which has been playing to packed houses at The Flamingo for four years since its initial six-month booking – is set to feature a new addition, Soldier Of Love, the song which took him from bright-eyed teenybopper to a genuine grown-up pop star.
“We’re putting together a dance routine for it and the music is just amazing,” he says.
“I’ve found this 21-year-old kid in LA, Baby-face, who has come up with an arrangement very much like Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back.”
The original hit song was put together by the most unusual of saviours – former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel.
“He was the executive producer on the album,” remembers Osmond. “I never had a plan B when I was going through the ups and downs of my career. There were peaks and valleys, and the valley before Soldier Of Love was an abyss until Peter came along.”
Further reinventions have included donning the Technicolor Dreamcoat on stage in Joseph back in the 1990s – as well as starring in the official movie – and winning the 2009 season of Dancing With The Stars, the US version of our own Strictly Come Dancing.
“Marie came third [in 2007],” he laughs. “I love the fact that I won and can rub it in her face. I show her that trophy every chance I can get!”
With such a healthy sense of humour – and a career which brought him into pretty much every UK and US family home in the 1970s – it might be a surprise to hear that Osmond has admitted to suffering a social phobia – a fear of people.
“I was able to get over it but so many people suffer from it,” he says. “Part of the anxiety is that it demands perfection. You have to realise that making a mistake is all right once in a while – it’s only human. I’ve been able to come to terms with that.
“Success doesn’t really fix it – sometimes it can make it worse. You just have to enjoy what you do and enjoy the place you’re in. The journey is not the finish line – there is always another race to win, another plateau to reach. “Today everyone is saying the UK tour is going to be the biggest but there will be another tour which will be just as big.”
He admits he is thinking of coming back by himself in a few years to promote his 60th album as a solo artist, but until then he is putting as much as he can into the touring show.
The performance includes dancers, an orchestra and multimedia displays – “I might even bring Marie along!”
Planning the original show found him walking a difficult tightrope.
“Conforming to what is popular at the time is a dangerous trap which can compromise your own integrity,” he says. “On the flip side it’s also dangerous to go out of your way to just do old stuff. You’ve got to take people down memory lane but then you’ve got to do what you’re up to right now. Lots of people come to the show who are not involved in what is current – they want to watch a 1970s show. They walk out saying they didn’t know we had done so much. We have had hits in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s!”
He and his sister collaborated on another album together in 2011, entitled simply Donny & Marie.
“It wasn’t that difficult finding the right material,” he says. “What was difficult is we started with 300 songs and had to get 13 or 14.
“The old Donny and Marie songs were always a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. It’s important to have a lot of variety on a record – you can’t get hung up on one genre.”
That need for variety has held true throughout his career.
“I was part of the band that did Crazy Horses,” he says. “James Hetfield from Metallica used to play Crazy Horses; Ozzy Osbourne once told me it was one of his favourite rock and roll songs.
“But I was also the kid who sang Puppy Love, which came out at the same time. It was two different juxtapositions of music.”
And even for this tour he can’t escape that song.
“It will be interesting to see how Justin Bieber will be in a few years,” he says. “He is making some good moves but that ‘Baby Baby’ stuff will haunt him for the rest of his life.
“Hopefully there will come a time in his 30s and 40s he will get out there and sing it again – as I sing Puppy Love – and he will embrace it.
“We perform Puppy Love exactly as people want to hear it. I have gone through the times when I made it a hip-hop song or pop song but people want to hear it in its original form.
“When I do sing it these huge screens of me as a 14-year-old come up behind me. I can’t sing it as high as I used to then!”
- Brighton Centre, King’s Road, Monday, January 21. Doors 6.30pm, tickets from £40. Call 0844 8471515
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