Jimmy heads for the Guildhall - and the Big 5-0

Jimmy Osmond
Jimmy Osmond

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Everyone of a certain age can either remember being in love with the Osmonds or had a sister or friend who was. Perhaps they still are now.

Osmond fans are well-known for being fanatical, even today, now ‘little’ Jimmy Osmond, the youngest of the nine musical siblings, is a 49-year-old father of four.

‘I turn 50 soon, but I still feel like a little kid,’ reveals the singer.

Jimmy stars at Portsmouth Guildhall tonight. Like his brothers – Donny, Merrill and Jay – and his sister – Marie, Jimmy still tours regularly and headlines in Las Vegas, despite suffering a stroke at 40.

He puts his family’s showbiz longevity down to their father’s efforts to keep them humble.

‘I owe a lot to my dad for keeping my head screwed on,’ explains Jimmy. ‘I remember telling him about one of our early hits when I was about 12 and he told me to go pick up the trash around our block.’

Jimmy received the first of many accolades at the age of seven, when he was the first Osmond to be awarded a gold record for a song he recorded in Japanese.

As a solo artist, he accumulated six gold records, one platinum, and two gold albums and is in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the youngest artist to have a No 1 in the UK charts. As part of The Osmonds, he’s sold more than 100 million records.

He’s starred in movies and TV series too. And Jimmy is a shrewd businessman, having developed and supervised most of the Osmonds’ merchandising business from a young age. He also launched a successful advertising agency.

His latest project is the concert tour for Boogie Nights, the musical theatre version of which, he’s starred in previously.

He’ll be headlining in the show alongside his brothers, Merrill and Jay, performing hits of their own and other classics from the 1970s.

It follows the trio’s record-breaking UK tour of 2012.

He explains: ‘I’m excited that Merrill and Jay have agreed to join in on the fun and continue the party. They are really looking forward to doing something a little different than our usual concert appearances.’

Jimmy describes Boogie Nights as ‘the Grease of the 70s’.

‘It’s been such a successful musical for my friends Jon Conway and Shane Richie. It’s about their life, what it was like growing up in the 70s,’ he explains.

‘The concert version is a musical theatre experience and a massive megamix concert, with all the iconic songs of the 70s plus the fashion style and spectacle of that time.

‘It’s a time machine for people to take themselves back because people come to the shows not just because of the artists, but because they want to remember their lives. And now is the perfect time for it. Everyone wants a little bit of an escape right now.

‘Boogie Nights is the perfect night out to remember an easier day.

‘We were a big part of the 70s, so I know the era well.’

Jimmy looks back fondly on the decade on which the show’s based and he’s got plenty of stories to tell from the era, including one where he was sick in front of Elvis Presley.

‘I was singing at dinner theatre at the Hilton when I was 11. I was impersonating Elvis Presley and, in the middle of it, I threw up all over the front row.

‘But I kept going. I was mortified, but you learn never to stop. Then I looked up and there in the lighting booth was Elvis,’ remembers Jimmy, who went on to become friends with The King.

‘He’s the one that got us into the white jumpsuits when he introduced us to his designers,’ adds Jimmy.

‘Anyway, the performance got me one of the biggest standing ovations of my life, because it was so funny and because I kept my composure and I finished – everyone was rooting for me.

‘I’d forgotten all about the whole thing. It was buried away in the annals of time until my crazy brother Donny put it in his book.

‘You can always rely on your brother to bring something like that up,’ laughs Jimmy who says his brothers are some of his best friends.

‘We see each other all the time, but we don’t all get together in one massive place.

‘We work together so intensely that, when we get holidays, we focus on our immediate families.

‘We’re like normal siblings. We all have our tribulations, but we still love each other.’

Jimmy hopes entire families will come to see Boogie Nights and he eschews any idea that the audience will be made up mainly of The Osmonds’ supremely loyal fans.

He has his own theories about why Osmonds fans are so enthusiastic.

‘We had the privilege of people getting to know us as individuals, not just as artists, because of the exposure we had.

‘Back in the day, there were only three broadcasters and a handful of radio stations.

‘And we were an oddity. Our little Christian family didn’t fit in the business, which made us stand out. The rock press wasn’t really kind to us, but we were still selling 100 million records.

‘People grew up with us. The Jacksons had it as well. But it would be hard to recreate a career like ours, because it was about the timing

‘If you experienced the 70s, you’ve heard of us, but Boogie Nights is not about us. We’re just excited to be a part of it.’

Jimmy’s excited to be working with Gareth Gates, Andy Abrahams, Chico, Shane Richie Junior and ex-EastEnders star Louisa Lytton, who all join the Boogie Nights cast.

‘I love EastEnders. I want to be in it, but I wouldn’t fit,’ Jimmy reveals.

‘David Essex is a good buddy of mine. We toured with him a lot and he’s a really nice guy. He’s done a nice stint in EastEnders.’

Other people Jimmy admires musically include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.

But his personal music tastes run to something slightly different. He says: ‘My influences are classic rock of the ’70s and ’80s: The Eagles’s Hell Freezes Over, the Steve Miller Band...

‘I love some of the new music my eldest (she’s 18 and looks just like her mom, thank goodness) is listening to. But, if I’m honest, I’d stick with my classic rock collection.’

Nostalgia endures. Jimmy will always love best that with which he grew up – just like his fans.

The Osmonds, Gareth Gates, Chico, Shane Richie Jr and EastEnders’s Louisa Lytton are among the stars in the Boogie Nights megamix concert at Portsmouth Guildhall tonight from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £32.50 to £35.50 from (023) 9282 4355 or portsmouthguildhall.org.uk