I have a favorite conversation starter I like to employ at parties. I ask, “Who would I be shocked to find out you admire?” No, I don’t want to hear about how you like Eleanor Roosevelt’s pluck. I’m looking for a Left Wing former hippie to tell me he secretly thinks Sarah Palin rocks. Or a staunch Republican to say he’d love to do beers and shoot hoops with Obama. Well, you don’t even have to show me yours, I’ll show you mine. The people you’d be shocked to find I admire? Richard Simmons and Donny Osmond. Richard is the subject for another day. Today, I’m talking Donny. Donny of Puppy Love and Tiger Beat Fame.
I haven’t exactly come out of the closet on my Donny Osmond fandom until now. But I’ve always thought he was vastly underrated as a performer. I mean, ballads, Pop, Broadway, comedy, variety show host. Donny can do it all.
It’s been interesting during this week of Michael Jackson Mania to hear how many people are citing One Bad Apple as a favorite Jackson Five song. Sorry, kids. It was offered to the Jacksons. They passed. The group that did it? The Osmonds. And that great voice in the lead? Not the future gloved King of Pop Superstar of All Time Beloved Of Millions If You Can Believe the Hype. Nope, Donny Osmond.
Okay, those Elvis suits the Osmonds used to sport didn’t do them any favors for their legacy. And it always bugged me when they tried to bring in Little Jimmy as the “new star” (as if Donny needed to be replaced). But Donny has proven, against all odds and the snickering of snarky critics that he has the chops to be a major talent. It’s just too bad that George Michael style pop stars or Tony Bennett like ballad singers or Broadway belters or loose and comfortable variety show hosts have gone slightly out of style. ‘Cause Donny Osmond is a master of all these genres.
It was a surprising way in which I found I wasn’t alone in my Donny Osmond fandom. I had a throwaway line about Donny Osmond being underrated in this Michael Jackson post. Surprisingly, it generated more comments on Donny than it did on Michael. Although most commenters were afraid to post publicly and responded by Twitter direct message, email or direct Facebook message. (People, talk to the Blog!)
One of the few bold enough to come out proud with his Donny Fandom was Cousin John, who is not my cousin but the cousin of my eccentric friend Julian. Equally eccentric John was unabashed in his appreciation of Donny. But then Cousin John is the Indiana Jones of California, so he’s pretty secure in his own image.
“The Osmonds were bigger than Jesus in the UK. Also, it’s uncool if you think he’s uncool. He’s had ironic retro caché since the 90s amongst the hipsters cognoscenti.”
Cousin John goes on to remind me that Osmondmania was as big in the UK in the 70s as Beatlemania was in the US in the Sixties. He also forwards this interview that shows Donny kept an ironic, cool sense of humor about his whole rise and fall and rise. Remember, this is a guy who had no problem appearing in Weird Al Yankovich’s video White and Nerdy.
Which brings me to Donny Osmond the man. I know, especially in the wake of this whole Michael Jackson Sobfest, that we are being asked to separate the man from his musical genius. But let’s give Donny some credit for facing the same pressures of early fame as Michael and not resorting to carving up his nose or molesting little boys.
Donny did develop social anxiety disorder which he admits had to be treated by drugs. What did he do? He became a spokesman for the condition trying to draw attention, understanding and funding to the condition.
And okay, I have a lot of issues with the Mormon Church, especially since they recently spent millions in California trying to influence (successfully it turns out) who can get married in our state. Donny issued this statement:
“We all determine for ourselves what is right and what is not right for our own lives. I am not a judge and I will never judge anyone for the decisions they make unless they are causing harm to another individual. I love my friends, including my gay friends. We are all God’s children. It is their choice, not mine on how they conduct their lives and choose to live the commandments according to the dictates of their own conscience.”
Nice thought, although he goes on to say Gays should only be allowed in the Mormon Church as celibates. But you know what? Donny’s never been caught in a motel room with hookers, underage male hustlers, cocaine or heroin. He was a 20 year old virgin bridegroom and has remained married to the same woman for decades. He walks the walk while he’s talking the talk. You have to respect that. He’s also been nothing but gracious in his memories of Michael Jackson, even though the interviewers have been trying to draw the same comparisons I just did.
Oh, and about that Donny comeback in the 90s? Turns out his record Soldier of Love, which was first released only in the UK, was sent to some NYC DJs. They played it while billing the singer as a Mystery Artist. It reached hit status before it was revealed to be by the Singer Formerly Known as Donny Osmond.
Last year, when we were in Vegas for my comical running (walking) of the Las Vegas Marathon, we noticed a big billboard advertising that Donny and Marie were appearing at the Flamingo. Andy started snickering. Our cabbie turned around and gave us a sharp verbal slap-down. He said Donny was one of the biggest draws in Vegas and he was immensely talented. Trust me, you don’t argue with cabbies.
Donny and Marie’s show has been extended until 2010. And I’m signed up for this year’s Las Vegas Marathon. Guess what tickets I’ll be buying.
By the way, Biography did a really good Donny & Marie profile that will change your view of this duo. This clip covers the fall of Donny’s career and how Soldier of Love kick-started it again. Did I mention Marie? Don’t even get me started. Also underrated.
NERD Update: Someone at Donny.com, Donny’s official site, just linked to me and now I’m following Donny on Twitter @donnyosmond
Marie is the hottest wholesome star out there. The anti-Britney.
The Osmonds’ song Crazy Horses is not to be missed.
Third one down. (making rock hand gesture).
I wrote a Donny post a while back (and apparently used a picture I had no rights to. oops.)
So I guess I’m out, too.
I just love the article. You hit on many of the issues that us Donny fans have known for years. Kudos to Cousin John for being among the proud Donny fans, joining me and thousands of others!
I love the way you bring out the true history behind these performers in your recent posts on Donny and MJ. But I have to agree with Al V: Marie Osmond is far and away my all-time favorite female vocalist. Her voice was so clear and pure, with perfect pitch on every note. Sheer perfection. So I am not at all surprised to read about your admiration of Donny.
Knights, are you saying you always knew I was uncool?
I met Donny (briefly) a long time ago, when he was on the “Last Resort with Johnathen Ross”, really nice down to earth guy. He gave me a silk Donny Osmond scarf…that you can now have.
[faints] You’d give me a Donny Osmond scarf?!!!!
great blog!! you even got a link on donny.com!!
enjoy the vegas show wish i could be there too 🙂
The Osmond’s are great. Now, I need to did out my old albums and give a listen with all the “pops” & “snaps”. The Osmonds and the Mormon Church are by no means perfect. They both strive for “good”. And that’s good enough for me. Thanks for bringing back fun memories.
Back in the late 1990s when I managed a recording studio in Memphis, we did a session with Marie Osmond. Her producer was her husband (and he was not a particularly nice fellow) and he booked the session and held rigid control over all of the proceedings. When Marie came in to work, despite being a little shy about seeing people, she was sweet, kind and gracious to everyone from the assistant engineers to the cats to the other clients who were in the studio. There’s alot to be said for good manners and a comfortable recognition of one’s position in the food chain.
And didn’t Marie divorce him? Over and over from all quarters “truly nice” seems to be the word on Donny & Marie. Watch it, I may buy those special tickets that get you a backstage photo op with D&M at their Flamingo show.
Hey! I’m the one who linked you! You can thank all of us Donny “nerds” who take advantage of Google Alerts for that! 🙂
It was good to see you there!
Oh, and you HAVE to get the VIP ticket! Trust me, if you’re not totally out of the closet by now…..you will be after that! 🙂
I’ll say it again! Great blog!
Great blog Lisa, really enjoyed reading it.
Once an Osmond fan always an Osmond fan. I finally got to meet the family last year in Australia on their sold out 50th Anniversary Tour. What a great family and the most gracious people you could ever meet that truly appreciate their fans.
We love them so much myself and two friends are flying from Australia to Vegas next year to see Donny and Marie and hopefully the brothers. And yes, we will be getting those VIP tickets!!!
Hey I am a big fan of Donny and Marie’s too.
Nice blog article.
Kudos for being linked to Donny’s site and on Twitter! You go fangirl 😀
Did you get a chance to watch Donny’s star turn on Weird Al’s White and Nerdy??? A definite MUST for any Donny Osmond Fan!
Thanks to a PBS fundraising campaign, I rediscovered Donny when he was the lead in ‘Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.’ He was outstanding! I ran right out and bought the dvd. When I listened to the interview with him in the special features he came across as not only down to earth, but he was able to laugh at himself as well. No sense of overblown ego at all. Now, that’s a real star. I think he is a grandfather. That gives me pause.
I cited the “White and Nerdy” video in the post, so Carma, you are now busted for skimming. Another funny Donny moment is when he has Jimmy Kimmel help him fulfill his dreams which include throwing a firecracker in a yoga studio. It’s a hilarious bit and is available on YouTube.
The knock on Donny & Marie was their wholesomeness, not their lack of talent. I’m not surprised to hear they’re nice people. I always liked Marie.
I always liked Debbie Gibson. Should I blush?
I could never figure out why people knock Donny, and Marie for being so nice, and wholesome. Is that so horrible?! Seems to me if more people were that way, the world wouldn’t be in the state that it is!!
Even for a rocker like me Donny has the right stuff. Check him out on the1985 video Ambitious by Jeff Beck.
Lisa..go over to Donny.com and visit the Homepage…Donny has posted your Blog there…:)
Here’s a weird story, I once went to a Donny Osmond record release party at Prince’s Paisley Park, now there is a weird coupling. Anyway Donny is super sweet
And Donny could totally take Prince in a fist fight. Not that he would.