Gary James' Interview With
"Little" Jimmy Osmond

He's the youngest member of The Osmond Family. To his credit, he has six Gold records, one Platinum record and two Gold albums. His first Gold record came at the age of five for a song he recorded in Japanese called "My Little Darling". He was the first Osmond to achieve that type of success at an early age. But wait, there's more. In 1972 he recorded a song called "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool". That led to The Guinness Book Of Word Records calling him the youngest performer ever to have a number one single on the UK singles chart. He's appeared in movies. He's performed in musical theatre. He was a finalist in the UK version of Celebrity Masterchef. He's the author of the book Awesome Possum Family Band. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Arts And Humanities by Iowa Wesleyan University. And once again, he was the first member of The Osmonds to achieve that honor and delivered the keynote commencement speech on May 9th, 2015. "Little Jimmy Osmond is celebrating his 50th year in show business in 2016! He's celebrating by performing a musical tribute to a man he calls his "friend, mentor, boss, neighbor and practically a second father" in a show called Moon River And Me. That tribute of course is to Mr. Andy Williams. And in fact, the tribute is Andy Williams' estate's only authorized show. And there's also a CD out to support the show called "Moon River And Me".

We spoke with Jimmy Osmond about his tribute to Andy Williams, his life in show business and his famous family.

Q - Well, "Little" Jimmy Osmond isn't so little anymore.

A - I think a lot of people are a little older, aren't they? (laughs)

Q - How fortunate your family was to have worked alongside such an easygoing, talented guy like Andy Williams. He came across as such a good guy.

A - A genuine man. He was so classy.

Q - I interviewed him.

A - Did you just love talking to him?

Q - I did.

A - Like talking to your best friend next door. He was great.

Q - That kind of a personality doesn't really exist in today's world.

A - Well, he was kind of the pioneer of variety television and he had a knack no matter who he was on stage with, which was always a Who's Who of Hollywood. He would make them feel like the star when in actuality he was the bigger star. He was very comfortable in who he was and made everybody feel like it was so easy to do what he does. He would just sing a song and it would be like somebody talking to you. That's why he was so successful. He just put everyone at ease.

Q - You are now doing a show where you sing the songs of Andy Williams.

A - It's actually an amazing full-circle thing. I started partnering with Andy this month (September), fifty years ago. What the show I'm doing in Vegas this weekend does is commemorate when I started with Andy. It's a show that was a pet project of his. Before he died I had a theatre next to his in Branson, Missouri. He was actually my neighbor. He would come down and say "Hi!" to the kids. Before he died he asked me to buy the theatre and keep it going and I did. I've owned the theatre for about three years. I produce his annual Christmas show that he wanted me to keep going. The show that I'm doing now is a show that he wanted to do himself. It was called Moon River And Me and it celebrated all of the footage of those variety shows with, you name it, from Bob Hope to Frank Sinatra to the Kennedys. We were there as well in all that footage as his background singers or featured act. And so it's great fun singing his award winning music, keeping that alive and showing what it was like in an easier day. I've had such great fun with the show because it was only meant for my theatre. Then I get calls from all over the world to take it. As soon as we close in Vegas I have twenty-seven dates in the UK and we've been asked to go to Japan again and Israel. Crazy places that I never thought I would be taking this show to. People just respond so well to it.

Q - Which is surprising since that style of singing disappeared a long time ago.

A - But the music is still alive and that's what Andy wanted to be remembered for. He says that actually in the show. That's the first thing he says when I start the show. It's kind of a video that plays prior to the show. I have the Moon River Band and some special guest stars that are on the bill as well. Even though those songs go way, way back, you're seeing younger artists like Pixie Locks and young, happening artists re-recording his music because that '60s vibe is something that is so cool to a younger demographic. In the audience you'll see everyone from grandma, whose music it was, (laughs) to a young kid who is just into that whole style of '60s and fast-paced variety format that Andy pioneered. It's really a fun thing. I was doing a show in New Mexico not too long ago. I had this veteran guy come up to me with tears in his eyes. We have a section in the show where people can call out songs that they want. He called out "Danny Boy". He said, "Thank you for singing that song. That was the song my mom sang to me, but I went into the military and when I got back she was gone." And he just bawled. If you can touch one person's life like that and help them remember their lives when you were just lucky enough to be on the radio, it makes it all worth while. It really does.

Q - When The Osmonds were on The Andy Williams Show it all seemed so effortless.

A - It wasn't. (laughs)

Q - You were how old when you started on that show?

A - I started when I was three. I was there but I was more of a novelty kind of a guy that would run out and sing a song and run off.

Q - What do you remember about that experience?

A - I don't know if I remember it. I think it's more watching the footage. I wonder if I'm remembering it so well because I'm watching the footage so many times.

Q - Were the rehearsals long every day?

A - Every day. My life has been a rehearsal non-stop. My dad was an army sergeant and my mom was a school teacher, so they made sure we worked hard and knew the value of people. My dad was the best with people skills and connecting with people. He loved people. So, we were in the perfect business.

Q - When Andy would talk to your brothers, was that rehearsed or off the cuff?

A - Well, initially when the brothers first started, there would be a run-through, but most of the time they were 'live' and they called my family "One-take Osmonds", which was always a lot of pressure growing up because my brothers were so well rehearsed. I know there were mistakes made, but they ended up being the cute things that kept us on. But they would, over and over, work and try to learn something new every week to stay on with Andy.

Q - Besides being a singer and an author, you're also a chef? You appeared on Celebrity Master Chef.

A - Well, that was an accident. I had a restaurant when I was a young guy, but it was a hamburger place by B.Y.U. So I never knew how to cook fancy food. To promote the show that's going to Europe they asked me to be on Master Chef. I was supposed to be there a week and I ended up being there in the finals all the way as runner-up amongst over thirty chefs. I got to work under some amazing chefs and make everything from cheese souffle for the Queen's Guard to a full meal for the hockey team. It was just a wild experience. I just kept telling 'em it was like an everyday occurrence at the Osmond house, cooking for that many. (laughs) But it was great fun.

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