In his interview with Piers Morgan, Donny made mention of the collapsing wall at Heathrow Airport. True, and also true that no one was more than slightly injured and, more pertinently, no one tried to sue us! But here’s the story that led up to that momentous day – the day The Osmonds changed from being a group where, like so many others, we were fighting to get publicity, to a household name, a name so firmly ‘nailed’ to Fleet Street’s newsroom walls, that we were in charge. It was a great feeling and I’d like to think we did it caringly and productively. Of course our job was to help Polydor sell records, and admittedly, the boys actually had no idea of the planning and work that went into some of their greatest publicity moments, but they were a very close, lovely family (if you’re looking for Osmonds scandal in these postings you’ll almost certainly be disappointed), so we knew our limitations.
Anyway – we’d moved on from the Variety show, ‘Crazy Horses’ had gone to No.2, ‘Puppy Love’ to No.1, and in November 1972 the first tour was about to happen. How to make their arrival in London hit the front pages? Well, we all remembered The Beatles’ homecoming from their first American tour, the huge crowds on what was then called The Queen’s Building, and wanted to replicate that, but felt sure that a formal approach to BAA would not give us the response we wanted. What to do? At that time Radio Luxembourg still had a huge audience and one of its top DJ’s and a great supporter of the band was Tony Prince. In all “innocence” we suggested to Tony it would be a great idea if he announced the flight arrival time and suggested that any fans wanting to meet The Osmonds at Heathrow should go there! The day after his announcement we, Roger Holt, myself and the security firm we’d hired for the tour – their names will come back to me at some point – were summoned to a meeting at the airport where we were told in no uncertain terms that this was not on and that the flight would be diverted to Luton. Somehow we managed to persuade the authorities that the fans would not believe them and that they’d come to Heathrow anyway. Wouldn’t it be better to have happy fans in their terminal than angry ones who might do anything??!! They saw reason, and the famous Terminal 2 photographs only ever seen twice (and now with extra buildings in front, never to be seen again, appeared.
The shot at the top is on the customised plane to Manchester or Glasgow – more about that another time, but you can see Marie, Jay and Alan, plus a bemused Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart and in the front right, Fat Fred, the most memorable of our team of security men.