Full name Donald Clark Osmond; born December 9, 1957, in Ogden, Utah; son of George and Olive Osmond; married. Religion: Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Addresses: 3 Corporate Plaza #220, Newport Beach, CA 92664.
Donny Osmond has seen success in many guises during his career as a singer. Beginning as a member of the Osmonds with his older brothers in the mid-1960s, he branched out to become a solo teen idol during the 1970s. With his sister, Marie Osmond, he also hosted a television variety series for three years. After a long period of fading popularity due to what David Wild in Rolling Stone called his "squeaky-clean image," Osmond grabbed the spotlight again with his 1989 album, Donny Osmond, which has yielded two hit singles--"Soldier of Love" and "Sacred Emotion."
Born Donald Clark Osmond December 9, 1957, in Ogden, Utah, to Mormon parents, the singer's story really begins with his older brothers. Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay Osmond had already garnered some measure of fame by the time Donny was ready to join their group. They had begun performing in church; as their reputation spread, the Osmonds sang at Mormon houses of worship throughout the western United States. Eventually they won a stint crooning at Disneyland, and appeared on Andy Williams's television variety show. Their specialty--for secular performances--was barbershop-style harmony, but a few years after Donny made the Osmonds a quintet, they won a contract with MGM Records and became pop-oriented.
With Donny as their lead singer, the Osmond Brothers scored their first big hit in 1971, the number-one single "One Bad Apple." During the same year, Donny launched his solo career with the top ten hit "Sweet and Innocent" and the even more successful "Go Away Little Girl," a remake of a song that had already been a hit twice--once for Steve Lawrence and once for the Happenings. For the remainder of the early 1970s Donny divided his musical efforts, continuing to record with his brothers, but also making several solo albums, including To You With Love, Too Young, and Alone Together. He scored chart hits with the singles "Puppy Love"--a remake of the old Paul Anka song, "Why," and "Too Young."
From 1974 to 1979, the most successful facet of Donny Osmond's career was that involving his sister, Marie. She had come to solo success in the country music genre with the 1973 smash "Paper Roses," and had a follow-up hit, "I'm Leaving It All Up to You," with Donny the next year. They made a total of five albums together; after the first two, however, they were signed by the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to host a television variety show. Though the series proved popular enough to last three years--an impressive accomplishment during the late 1970s--Donny and the other Osmonds were having problems with their image. As Wild put it, they "were so unhip as to be anachronisms." Because of the Osmond family's commitment to the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Donny and his siblings wished to put forth only wholesome entertainment, suitable for the entire family. This attitude was seen as old-fashioned and unrealistic by critics, and by much of the music audience. Donny (and the other singing Osmonds) always, however, managed to hold on to a small but devoted following for their records.
In 1980 the Osmond Brothers stopped recording for two years; when they came back together, Donny did not join them. Instead, he concentrated on the production aspect of the music industry, and one of his more noteworthy accomplishments in this area was directing a television special for pop and jazz artist Grover Washington, Jr. He also starred in a revival of the Broadway musical "Little Johnny Jones," but the problem of his wholesome reputation followed him to the stage. Osmond told Wild: "The show was great--we had to stop it twice on opening night for standing ovations. Then the reviews came out. All they could talk about was my image." The show was thus shortlived.
But according to Wild, the experience brought home to Osmond just how big an obstacle he had to overcome to regain success. Nevertheless, he remained determined, and fought hard for another chance at recording. He was almost chosen as the lead singer for a fledgling group called Air Play, and he made a cameo appearance in a video for fellow musician Jeff Beck. But Osmond credits rock star Peter Gabriel with helping him back to the charts. Not only did he allow Osmond to use his recording studio in Bath, England, but "he gave me credibility," Osmond admitted to Wild. Osmond also took on a new look in hopes of defeating his image problem, featuring a stubbly beard, jeans, and leather jacket, which led many critics to make comparisons with pop artist George Michael. Osmond denies Michael's influence.
All of Osmond's efforts have paid off, however, for his 1989 album Donny Osmond is a resounding success. The first single, "Soldier of Love," which Wild described as "an infectious ... dance-rock number," reached the number two position on the charts. He scored a follow-up hit with the love ballad "Sacred Emotion." Another cut from the album, "Secret Touch," was inspired by Osmond's courtship of his wife; he says that he had to date her in secret for three years because of the constant attention he received as a teen idol. Osmond is thrilled by the airplay that his 1989 hits have received. "This is the first time radio people are playing my record[s] because they want to," he commented to Wild. "Back in the Seventies, they played 'em because they had to."
by Elizabeth Thomas
Donny Osmond's Career
Vocalist, keyboardist; member of group the Osmonds, mid-1960s to 1980; solo recording artist and concert performer c. 1971--; duet performer with sister, Marie Osmond, 1974-79. Appeared on television variety shows, including the "Andy Williams Show" and the "Donny and Marie Show," and in the film Going Coconuts. Also starred in the Broadway musical Little Johnny Jones.
Donny Osmond's Awards
Several gold albums.
- Solo LPs
- The Donny Osmond Album MGM, 1971.
- To You With Love MGM, 1971.
- Portrait of Donny MGM, 1972.
- Too Young MGM, 1972.
- Alone Together MGM, 1973.
- Disco Train Polygram, 1976.
- Donald Clark Osmond Polygram, 1977.
- Donny Osmond (includes "Soldier of Love," "Sacred Emotion," and "Secret Touch"), Capitol, 1989.
- LPs; with the Osmond Brothers
- The Osmonds MGM, 1971.
- Homemade MGM, 1971.
- Phase III MGM, 1972.
- Crazy Horses MGM, 1972.
- The Plan MGM, 1973.
- Around the World Live in Concert MGM, 1976.
- Osmonds' Christmas Album Polygram, 1976.
- Brainstorm Polygram, 1976.
- Osmonds' Greatest Hits Polygram, 1977.
- Steppin' Out Mercury, 1978.
- LPs; with Marie Osmond
- I'm Leaving It All Up to You MGM, 1974.
- Make the World Go Away MGM, c. 1975.
- New Season Polygram, 1976.
- Winning Combination Polygram, 1978.
- Goin' Coconuts Polygram, 1978.
January 13, 2004: Osmond's album, Love Songs , recorded with his sister, Marie, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_5/index.jsp, January 21, 2004.
- Daly, Marsha, Osmonds: A Family Biography, St. Martin's, 1983.
- Dunn, Paul H., The Osmonds, Avon, 1977.
- Rolling Stone, August 10, 1989.