Legends Live, Brighton Centre, Saturday, October 21, 7.30pm

THIS IS kind of bittersweet for me,” says Jimmy Osmond of his band’s upcoming tour. “I’ve worked with my brothers all my life – 50 years in showbusiness – and this will be our last big arena tour. We’ll still be together as brothers but not performing consistently after this.”

It is difficult to imagine a world where The Osmonds don’t exist somewhere in the collective popular consciousness. Even Millennials will be familiar with the name, if not necessarily the music, such is the lingering influence of the seven siblings; Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy (only Jay, Merrill and Jimmy will perform on the Legends Live tour).

Such was the hysteria surrounding the group in the 1970s that it was given its own name – Osmondmania. If The Beatles were the rowdy rock and roll gods of the 1960s, The Osmonds became the clean-cut, deeply religious equivalent some years later. Collectively, the family has sold 102 million records worldwide.

The youngest of the group, Jimmy experienced a level of independence unknown to any of his siblings. While Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay began to perform in a barbershop quartet in the late 1950s, Jimmy, who was born too late to be part of this gang, furrowed his own path.

And what a path it was. At the age of just five he received a gold record for a song he recorded in Japanese; My Little Darling. Later, his hit Long Haired Lover From Liverpool earned Jimmy a slice of history as the youngest person to top the UK charts – a record he still holds. Bizarre Looking back, did Jimmy realise he was living an abnormal life or was this all natural for his pre-teen self?

“Totally abnormal” he replies without hesitation. “I look at my children now – the oldest is 22 and youngest is 15 – and think, ‘I was living on my own when I was 14. I had a television series in Japan when I was 16’. It was a bizarre freedom. I don’t know whether my family wanted to lose me or my parents trusted and believed in me but I choose to believe the latter. The opportunities all of our family had at that age were just crazy. I actually thought I was an underachiever.”

The Osmond Brothers became simply The Osmonds when Donny and Jimmy joined the group. The former is perhaps the most well-known of the family thanks to his super-selling solo career and popular turns in musical theatre but it was the youngest Osmond who pulled a lot of strings in the family’s success. He was an instrumental player, too, in the group’s 50th anniversary tour in 2007. This is partly due to his business acumen, which has only been improved by owning and running a number of theatres.

“I always ended up putting things together for all my siblings,” he says. “The anniversary tour was the culmination of having worked for all of them and honouring the work my brothers did to pave the way for us younger ones. It was a lot of pressure but it was a cool way of me giving something back.”

The fact that the siblings are all still friends is “something to celebrate”, in Jimmy’s book, particularly given the fickle nature of the music industry. Osmondmania would not last, with the family declining in popularity among its young fanbase.

There were crippling debt problems, too. In another interview Jimmy said the siblings had lost “maybe $100 million in today’s money” but that it was “the best thing that ever happened to my brothers and me because it made us really appreciate how to manage money and it forced us to refocus”.

Fulfilling “We went through difficult times but we all helped each other,” he says today. “It was nice to be in a position to help, to feel like I had something more important than myself to get up for in the morning. I probably could have done more, but I couldn’t have done a more fulfilling thing with my family.”

Jimmy believes the fact that he and his siblings have “never been afraid to reinvent ourselves” is the reason for the continued interest in the family; not every band can command a venue like the Brighton Centre. “That’s what has kept us alive.” The singer stressed each member of The Osmonds is “opposite to any other person” and says the only negative to fame is that “people tend to lump us into one mould”.

“No matter what you achieve individually you’re always measured by a sibling. Some journalists go for the cheeky ‘that’s what the Osmonds are’ rather than what the individuals are about. That’s the only time it gets a little old. I’ve been in showbiz for 50 years now though so I think people know my personality.”

A variety of genres have been tackled at different points in the family’s collective career, from out-and-out pop to rock and roll to disco, soul, funk and even a fairly successful immersion into country music.

So what can we expect from Jimmy, Merrill and Jay when they visit Brighton? “The hits,” says Jimmy. Is he wary of the term “nostalgia”? “For me, it’s just nice to connect with people. When you hit the stage it’s like you’re with friends, as these people have grown up with you in their living rooms.”

The Osmonds might be on the brink of calling it a day once and for all – something Jimmy thought would happen after the 50th anniversary tour – but fans can be sure there are still plenty of memorable moments on the way in the next year.

“When you know each other so well, everyone’s in sync,” says Jimmy. “It’s all about savouring the moment. Over the years we’ve realised that this isn’t about us – it’s about those who come and see us. We were just lucky enough to be played on the radio.”

His Mormon faith

It’s a lifestyle. I haven’t lost the plot yet, touch wood. It’s nice to believe in something. My mum had this amazing ability to be open to other people’s beliefs. I celebrate everyone’s beliefs but I’m grateful I have mine. It’s really helped me know what I want out of life.

His children

My daughter is graduating from uni and wants to go into PR, so we’re here (in London) looking for internships. It’s weird to see everybody grow up and get on with their lives. She’s a great singer. Because I’ve owned theatres it’s been fun to include them in some of the shows. We’re like this little family of quail, flitting all over the world together. My son is on a mission to Japan for two years. It’s hard for Daddy to let go.


I got into theatre because of (American musician) Andy Williams. Andy was about to pass away and said can you take care of my legacy. How can you turn him down, he’s the one who gave us our career. So here I am doing shows in his name. My company produces 400 shows a year. That’s enough to kill a man, right?

Rock and Roll

That was the music The Osmond Brothers wrote back in the day; my older siblings loved it. Then Donny and I joined the band and threw in our cheeky songs that messed it up a little bit. Merill and Jay are still really into rock and roll so the new tour will probably revolve around that a little bit.

Performing on stage

I’ve been all over the world performing but there’s only so much time in the day and we’re all getting older. There’s nothing like being on stage, though, especially with people like David Essex, Hot Chocolate and Suzi Quatro. I’ve never played with her before but I’m certainly a fan so I’m very much looking forward to it.

Legends Live – who else is on the bill?

David Essex

The London-born singer-songwriter has had 19 top 40 singles in the UK. He has also had a career as an actor. Due to his good looks and accesible music, Essex was a teen icon. His musical style tends towards the glamorous and dramatic – qualities that led him in the direction of musical theatre. He was awarded an OBE in 1998 and he played Eddie Moon in EastEnders in 2011. Essex scored two number one singles, Hold Me Close and Gonna Make You A Star.

Hot Chocolate

The British soul band were popular during the 1970s and 80s, having been formed by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson. The group had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984 and their song You Sexy Thing made the Top 10 in three different decades. It was also famously used in the movie The Full Monty.

Suzi Quatro

Between 1973 and 1980, Suzi Quatro featured in the British charts for no fewer than 101 weeks and has sold more than 55 million records to date. In the late 70s Quatro acted in the worldwide TV hit Happy Days, as well as Absolutely Fabulous and Midsomer Murders. She has an on going career as a presenter on Radio Two.