The Osmonds

The Osmonds
The Osmonds

The Osmonds performing in Hamburg; 1970s (l-r): Alan, Merrill, Donny, Jay and Wayne
Background information
Origin Utah, United States
Genres R&B, pop, disco, Soft rock, rock
Years active 1958–present
Labels MGM
MGM/Polydor Records
Elektra/Asylum Records
Warner Bros.
MGM/Kolob Records
Associated acts Donny & Marie, 1976
Donny & Marie 1998
Alan Osmond
Wayne Osmond
Merrill Osmond
Jay Osmond
Donny Osmond
Marie Osmond
Jimmy Osmond

The Osmonds are an American family music group with a long and varied career—a 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 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and their religious values have influenced their careers.[1]

When it began as a barbershop quartet, the group consisted of brothers Alan Osmond, Wayne Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Jay Osmond. They were later joined by younger siblings Donny Osmond and Jimmy Osmond. Their only sister Marie Osmond, who never sang with her brothers at that time, would launch a successful solo career in the '70s. Older brothers George Virl Osmond, Jr. (Virl) and Tom Osmond were born deaf and did not originally perform,[1] 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 the youngest, Jimmy, who was born in Canoga Park, California. The group have sold 102 million records worldwide.


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 their 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 their church.[2] 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 Disneyland and were hired to perform there [3][unreliable source?] after joining an adult barbershop quartet for some impromptu singing.[4]

The boys with Andy Williams in 1964. Fron left: Alan, Wayne, Williams, Merrill, and Jay.

While the Osmond Brothers were performing on a televised Disney special, 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 Andy Williams' show from 1962–1969,[4] where they earned the nickname "one-take Osmonds" because of their professionalism and tireless rehearsing.[5] Donny soon joined them on the show, making the Osmond Brothers a 5-member group. Marie and Jimmy were also introduced on the show as the years went by. During this time, the Osmonds also toured Europe, performing with Sweden's most popular singer, Lars Lönndahl, and even releasing a single where they sang a swedish version of "Two dirty little hands" ("Fem smutsiga små fingrar").

The Osmond Brothers were regulars on the Jerry Lewis Show in 1969, and they continued to tour and perform with Andy Williams.[4] 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 pop band. They achieved only modest success at first, but they found fame in 1971.[2]

The Osmonds: a pop music success - 1971 - 1972

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.[4] He helped the Osmonds get a record contract with MGM, and arranged for them to record at Muscle Shoals with R&B producer Rick Hall.[2] Under Hall's guidance, the Osmonds hit the top spot on the pop chart with "One Bad Apple" (Billboard #1) in 1971. The Osmonds soon had hits with other light, R&B-style pop numbers like "Double Lovin'" (Billboard #14) and "Yo-Yo" (Billboard #3). In each of these hits, the formula was the same; Merrill sang lead, and Donny was "co-lead" in essence, singing the "hook" or "chorus" of the song.

The Osmonds in 1971.

At this time the Osmonds also recorded several hits that were billed to Donny, the lead soloist on the songs. They included "Sweet and Innocent" (Billboard #7), "Go Away Little Girl" (Billboard #1), "Hey Girl"/"I Knew You When" (Billboard #9), and "Puppy Love" (Billboard #3). It was at this time, 1971 and 1972, that the Osmonds were at their peak of popularity.

After this early "bubblegum soul" phase, the Osmonds began writing their own music, and their sound moved towards rock and roll with hits like "Down by the Lazy River" (#4), "Hold Her Tight" (Billboard #14), and "Crazy Horses" (#14).[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.[6][unreliable source?] 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 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 1972-1974. By this time the Osmonds had broken through in the UK 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.[4]

But changes and challenges soon arrived. The older boys were of age to go on church missions, yet they believed they could reach more people through their music. The Osmonds viewed their music as their mission.[2] 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.[7] The album produced only two modest hits: "Let Me In" and "Goin' Home" both peaked at #36 on the Billboard charts. Furthermore, the older boys may have wanted to reduce the regular touring that is a necessity in popular music but not so good for marriage and "settling down."[2]

Solo careers take off

Donny, and to a lesser extent, Marie and Jimmy, soon began to emerge as solo artists. Jimmy had hits 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" (#2), 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, although Donny would usually sing the chorus of the songs, therefore being a "co-lead" in the group. 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.[2]

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."[2]

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. The Irish boy band Boyzone took the song to #2 on the U.K. charts in 1994.[8]

Donny and Marie: the show and its challenges

Donny and Marie, 1977.

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.[4] But the success came at a cost. The family built and operated, at great expense, a first-class television studio in Orem, Utah, where the show was produced.[4] 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.[2]

They recovered and eventually paid their debts and re-established their careers.[2] But the various Osmond artists and enterprises began to operate separately.

After The Donny and Marie show

Jimmy worked as a businessman and manager. He eventually moved to Branson, Missouri, and opened the Osmond Family Theater, where he and his brothers performed until 2002. They now[when?] appear in Branson during the Christmas season.[4]

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.

Donny returned to the pop-music scene in 1989 and had two Billboard Top-40 hits: "Soldier of Love" (#2) and "Sacred Emotion" (#13). 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, winning the ninth season (Fall 2009) of ABC's Dancing with the Stars and still tours in the US and England. He currently[when?] performs dates in Las Vegas with Marie.

The Osmonds performing in May 2008

Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay formed a country group and returned to using the name "The Osmond Brothers."[4] They had two Billboard Country hits in the early 1980s: "I Think About Your Lovin'" (#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.[4] Merrill performs and records as a solo artist as well. Alan has multiple sclerosis, and does not perform as often today. All of the brothers are married, some with large families. Alan's eight sons started performing in the mid-1980s as "The Osmond Boys," now known as "The Osmonds--Second Generation."[2]

In 2007-2008 all of the Osmonds went on a tour of Europe to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their career in show business. A special televised concert in Las Vegas (the only tour stop in the US), commemorating the anniversary, aired on US 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, Donny and Marie Osmond will record a television special for the British channel ITV1. An Audience with Donny and Marie is the latest in ITV's long running An Audience with... series and will be based on their Las Vegas stage show.[9]

Olive and George Osmond (aka Mother and Father Osmond)

Olive Osmond, mother of the Osmond siblings, died on May 9, 2004 at age 79. Their father, George Osmond, died on November 6, 2007 at age 90.[10] The couple were survived by their nine children and 55 grandchildren as well as a number of great-grandchildren; Olive by 22, George by 48. Before Mr. Osmond's 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 died 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.

Hollywood Walk Of Fame

In 2003, the Osmond Family were honored for their achievements in the entertainment industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.



Year Album details Peak chart positions
US US Country CAN
1962 Songs We Sang on The Andy Williams Show
  • Label: MGM Records E(mono)/SE(stereo)-4146
1962 We Sing You A Merry Christmas
  • Label: MGM Records E/SE-4187
1963 Preview: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters
  • Label: MGM Records PM-7
1964 The New Sound of The Osmond Brothers Singing
More Songs They Sang on The Andy Williams Show
  • Label: MGM Records E/SE-4291
1970 Hello! The Osmond Brothers
  • Label: Denon International CD-77
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4724
14 34
1971 Homemade
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4770
22 27
Phase III
  • Label: MGM Records SE-4796
10 6
1972 The Osmonds Live
  • Label: MGM Records 2SE-4826
13 8
Crazy Horses
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4871
14 10
1973 The Plan
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4902
58 20
1974 Love Me for a Reason
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records SE-4939
47 29
1975 The Proud One
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records M3G-4993
160 89
Around the World: Live in Concert
  • Label: MGM/Kolob Records M3JB-5012
1976 Brainstorm
  • Label: Polydor/Kolob Records PD-1-6077
The Osmonds Christmas Album
  • Label: Polydor/Kolob Records PD-1-6083
1977 The Osmonds Greatest Hits
  • Label: Polydor Records PD-2-9005
1979 Steppin' Out
  • Label: Mercury SRM-1-3766
1982 The Osmond Brothers
  • Label: Elektra Asylum Records 60180
1984 One Way Rider
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records 1-25070
2000 The All-Time Greatest Hits of the Osmond Family (Box Set)
  • Label: Curb Records
--- --- ---
2008 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert
  • Label: Denon 17678


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
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 91 4 The Plan
"Let Me In" 36 4 15 5 2
1974 "I Can't Stop" 12 Love Me for a Reason
"Love Me for a Reason" 10 2 18 5 1
1975 "Having a Party" 28
"The Proud One" 22 1 25 4 5 The Proud One
"I'm Still Gonna Need You" 38 32
1976 "I Can't Live a Dream" 46 38 70 35 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" 27
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


  1. ^ a b Biography: The Osmonds, Pure and Simple (documentary)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Inside the Osmonds" (DVD)
  3. ^ om een reactie te plaatsen! (2007-07-23). "‪The Osmond Brothers at Disneyland‬‏". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History". Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  5. ^ Life is Just What You Make It: My Story So Far by Donny Osmond and Patricia Romanowski
  6. ^ om een reactie te plaatsen!. "‪The Osmonds (video) Goin Home‬‏". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Boyzone
  9. ^ McMahon, Kate (2009-08-11). "Osmonds to reunite for ITV1 special | News | Broadcast". Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  10. ^ Nudd, Tim (2007-11-06). "Donny and Marie Osmond's Father Dies". People Magazine.,,20158519,00.html. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 

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