Tuesday, 8 December 2015

INTERVIEW - Jimmy Osmond

IT hardly seems possible that it's more than 40 years since Jimmy Osmond had his number one single Long Haired Lover From Liverpool.
The Utah-based singer was nine at the time and he is still in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest ever act to have a UK number one.
Together with his siblings Jimmy was huge in the 1970s. Indeed the Osmonds were the One Direction of their day and have sold 102 million records worldwide over the intervening years and are still going strong.
They began their career singing backing vocals on Andy Williams' hits so it's appropriate that they are starring in the Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular, a celebration of the legendary singer songwriter that comes to the UK for the first time.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be doing this show in the UK," Jimmy tells me. "I love being in the UK – I spend so much time here, I feel very British actually."
We speak as Jimmy is stuck in traffic in Manchester but despite this inconvenience he is full of the joys, is utterly charming and genuinely enthusiastic about the show which comes to the Indig02 next week as part of a UK tour.
It's a venue he knows well and has played there "many times before" so he is looking forward to coming back - and to sampling the delights of Nandos within the 02 complex.
"I'm a regular customer there," he jokes. "I really like their chicken! It's right next to the venue and I love it.
“The Indig02 is such a cool place and I love performing there. It’s going to be so great and I can’t wait."
He says the show will be exactly what it says on the tin, a spectacular, with a big band, dancers and packed with Christmas carols and lots of laughs, which will leave the audience uplifted and in Christmas spirit.
As well as the Osmonds, it features special guest Jimmy Cricket, with his trademark jovial hilarity, and the Moon River Singers and dancers.
There will also be nostalgic footage of the Osmonds back in the day and of the legendary Andy Williams from Christmases past.
But the main draw will be the songs which will include Silent Night, Last Christmas and Merry Christmas Everybody.
And fans of Jimmy and his siblings will be delighted to hear that they will also be performing their huge canon of hits made famous during more than five decades of entertaining around the world – numbers such as Love Me for a Reason, Crazy Horses and Down By The Lazy River.
"The show grew out of having performed with Andy over many years,” Jimmy explains.
"I first appeared on Andy William’s stage when I was only three years old. My brothers had been singing back-up on Andy’s biggest hits and had been regulars on his hit television series for several years.
“I remember back then Andy was just a man next door. He was so cool. He wore jump suits which is where we got the idea from!
“He asked me to keep his legacy alive and I was blown away by that because if it hadn’t been for him we wouldn’t have worked with Elvis or Sinatra.
“I was a bit worried about taking on this show but he wanted me to do it because he was family to us.
“Since then so many long time Andy Williams fans have come up to say thank you for keeping his music alive which is wonderful - it's become an American tradition, so many people come and see it.”
And Jimmy promises fun filled family entertainment for those who come and see it.
“It has all the spectacle you would expect from an Osmond show with a fantastic atmosphere,” he says. “There’s singing and dancing and all the footage of us growing up.
“It’s a show for everyone whether you are a young kid or a grandparent, it’s very inclusive and everyone gets up on their feet and sings along which is great."
As well as the Indig02 the tour takes in Croydon’s Fairfield Halls tomorrow and a few other dates in the run up to Christmas. Then it will be back to Utah for a family Christmas which Jimmy says he’s looking forward to.
“I haven’t been home for Christmas in five years because I’ve been doing panto over here,” he laughs. “Panto is really vaudeville in America and I grew up doing that so I took to panto like a duck to water and love it.
“I would bring the family over each time so it will be great to be going home.
“I’m a traditional guy and like to keep the traditions alive so all the decorations will be up when I get back."
And he admits to adopting a few British traditions, not least crackers.
“I love them,” he laughs. “Everyone says that Americans go all out for Christmas but having been in the UK for so many years I can tell you that you guys really know how to celebrate!
“No one in America has crackers but we have them every year. In fact it’s not a proper Christmas without them!"
After the Christmas festivities it will be back to work for Jimmy, with upwards of 500 events a year to produce not to mention being a dad to his four kids.
"I look back at my life and although I wouldn’t give up my memories I want my kids to have a normal life like going to ball games and proms," he says.
"I had to give up school to do what we did. Our lives were so fast in the 70s and 80s.
"The other day my boy said ‘stop and savour the moment – savour and appreciate what we have’. We don’t know what tomorrow brings so we should savour the moment.
"We learn so much from kids – they are the greatest."

The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular is on at Fairfield Halls Croydon tomorrow. Visit www.fairfield.co.uk or call the box office on 020 8688 9291. It is on at London Indigo2 on Wednesday, December 16. Visit www.axs.com or www.tdpromo.com or call 08448 244824 for full listings.

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