Anyone see Donny Osmond’s interview with Piers Morgan over Christmas? It brought back a few memories for me, particularly his references to the collapsed wall at Heathrow airport, and that, plus the two-month final UK tour happening from Mar-May this year, has prompted me to share one or two of them with you over the coming weeks and months. But first, let’s just put their career into perspective. With the exception of their first three singles, all of which were hits before they ever came to England, the brothers (and sister) were always much much bigger in the UK than the US, In America One Bad Apple made No.1, Yo-yo No.3 (both in 1971) and ‘Down by the lazy river’ got to 4 in January 1972. In the UK, the first hit single was Crazy Horses which reached no.2 in October 1972 but only 14 in America, after which their US slid away and, for three years, the group and solo hits dominated the UK charts. By 1975 it was almost all over, but by rights they should have made enough money to play for fun rather than money, Sadly, by then they had parted company with their original managers Katz, Gallin, Leffler ( and it was Ed Leffler with his young assistant Jim Moray who were responsible for their global success), and were well and truly stuffed by the subsequent managers, who left them absolutely penniless and having to start all over again.
Anyway, more of that at a later time. I first became involved with the whole Osmond Family (though I never met the two older brothers who stayed home and ran the fan club, both severely deaf) when I joined Polydor Records in March 1972 as their press officer. Being aware of the boys’ success in America we felt we had to try and do something to get them noticed over here. My best pal at Polydor during that period, Roger Holt, came up with the idea of getting them on the bill of some TV variety show promoting a sporting event – might even have been the Olympics, my memory fails me and I didn’t start keeping a diary until 1980! Actually, the Osmonds remember better than me and here are the fact from their web site for May 22 1972.
|The Osmonds performed four songs before Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Gala Variety. Other guests of the Royal Command Performance included Liza Minnelli and Lily Tomlin. They met Queen Elizabeth on this date. The show was a benefit for the British Olympic Team. The gala was taped and aired on television which marked the Osmonds’ debut on British television. While they were in London, they also appeared on the television show, Top Of The Pops.|
Anyhow, having securing the slot, the dilemma was how to get them publicity. Don’t remember, but I can bet it was Roger who came up with the idea of renta-crowda-kids! For some reason a guy called John Halsall ( whose sister Jenny became the Osmonds PR in a 90’s revival visit, and who much later bought the photo library of Flair Photography whose two partners, Bill Francis and more importantly Ron Cohen took all my Osmonds’ photos) was called on to provide a mini-bus of young girls with instructions to follow the brothers wherever they went, and scream on the pavement when they emerged! It worked – the press were either fooled, or more likely just liked the story and we were away.. and for me, just six weeks into the new job, it was the start of an amazing three years.