Family Ties Remain Strong For Osmonds
South Bend Tribune
by Alexandra Kilpatrick
November 27, 2011
As in any other family, the Osmond siblings have had their fair share of disagreements, but touring together for 50 years has forced them to get along, especially while on the road.
"It was challenging sometimes," Jay Osmond says. "We grew up really close. Eight boys and one girl. And you know, we're normal, we have our spats, but we learned to get along. We grew up really close and we had to learn to get along and solve fights quickly, disagreements quickly, and all that stuff. But we were raised really close and all traveling together on the road, so you have to learn to get along, you know?"
Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay Osmond started as a barbershop quartet in 1958 in their hometown of Ogden, Utah. Their break came in 1962, when Andy Williams hired them to perform on his television show, where they appeared regularly through the '60s, during which time younger brother Donny joined the group.
In 1971, however, the brothers switched styles and became a pop-rock band, a move that catapulted them to stardom with the release of the No. 1 single "One Bad Apple." The Top 20 singles "Yo-Yo," "Crazy Horses" and "Love Me for a Reason" followed through 1974. Donny also became a teen idol as a solo artist, and he and sister Marie formed a popular duo and starred in their own television variety show from 1976 to '79.
The group switched styles again in the '80s and found success on the country music charts throughout the decade.
"We're going to take people through a little bit of a journey through time," Jay Osmond says about Saturday's concert at Lake Michigan College's Mendel Center. "And we're going to show some videos and we're obviously going to (hear) some Christmas music. But we're going to take people through what we've learned over the years.
"It's fun, and when people come to our show, they're going to get a lot of variety and we'll see different types of music and genres. ... People really want to have a good night, have a great Christmas, and reminisce through the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and now. And people bring their families, and it's a fun time for two hours."
The Osmond Brothers have performed a variety of musical styles over the past 50 years, ranging from barbershop to country to jazz.
"It's hard to pigeonhole the Osmonds, because we've done so many types of music," Jay Osmond says. "Barbershop. Pop. Rock. Country. Gospel. We try to put a lot of different types of music in our show. Our audiences are so vast, (ranging) from little kids to 80 years old, everywhere in between, at every age. And so, it's really a challenge and yet it's fun to appeal to such a wide demographic."
The Osmond Brothers found no problem resolving the seeming contradiction between their clean-cut image and their desire to be a rock 'n' roll band in the early 1970s.
"I think you can be clean and be a rock 'n' roll band," Jay Osmond says.
"We had a lot of people say we couldn't. They said, you know, 'You're too slick, you'll never be cool, you'll never be hip,' and yet we were. And Elvis Presley, we were fans of Elvis, he thought we were really cool and so did Frank Sinatra. So did Paul McCartney. And different people.
"And it was really fun, because way back in the '70s, we were at a Led Zeppelin concert and they invited us back and said, 'You guys, you know, we think you're so fun.' And it was like, how neat to be different in the rock 'n' roll scene and yet be accepted by those (musicians)."
Jay Osmond even included his thoughts on the matter in his recently released book "Stages."
"(The book) is about my life and perceptions that people have and that I have," he says. "Our church, you know, Mormons are Christians, and our Christian-based beliefs are what got us through the hard times in show business, and so that really blessed our lives. Our parents were very strong, devout Mormons. Christians, and a lot of people, are curious about Mormons and we always say, you can go to Mormon.org and you'll know all about it. That's what really got us through and helped us through the morals and all the different challenges we got through. But we held to our standards and we loved our music. We did all kinds of music in the '70s. It was quite a whirlwind though."
Although he and his siblings were in the limelight a great deal during the '70s, Jay Osmond does not attribute the mainstreaming of Mormonism to his band's popularity.
"There are many different kinds of Mormons," he says. "We're just (a few) of very many people out there. The church is wonderful. I think we felt very strong(ly), as most Mormons do that whatever you say or do, people are going to watch you. You are being watched by the media and people will sometimes base the church on your conduct, so we had to be on our toes and we knew that people were judging us and the church by what we said and did."
Jay Osmond says he thinks such scrutiny was good for him and his siblings. "It kept us sharp," he says. "We had a lot of very normal people (and) a lot of situations we encountered, but we kept strong to our beliefs, knowing that there's a God and knowing that we're family and there are certain standards we live by."
And in the end, Jay Osmond puts being a star in perspective. "Show business is nothing more than the business of show," he says. "It's a business, like anything else. And you know, it's how you look at it. People glorify show business too much. I think people put people on pedestals and I've always had a problem with that. But we felt that if you listened to our music, we could help bring families together, spread some Christianity to the world, and help some people understand who Mormons are a little bit better."
In concert The Osmond Brothers perform a Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lake Michigan College's Mendel Center, 2755 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor. Tickets are $46-$26. For more information, call 269-927-1221 or visit the website lmcmainstage.org.