Jimmy Osmond celebrated his 50th Anniversary in show business in 2016 with the hugely successful show A Tribute to Andy Williams – Moon River & Me. Now he’s bringing it back to the region. He tells What's On about his special connection to the crooner

Andy Williams obviously represents someone very special in your life?

I began my performing career aged three singing with Andy Williams on his television series. My brothers were already on the show, so I started working with them when I was very young. I was the little guy who’d run on and be goofy. In those early days, I was the novelty guy, like a mascot. After a lot of therapy, I’ve come to terms with it! It was that era’s version of a Variety Show. In the UK you had Sunday Night At The London Palladium and in the US we had The Andy Williams’ Show The show also featured major guest stars including Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.

Do you enjoy performing your tribute show?

I love it. It’s not about me – it’s about Andy Williams and his music. I perform songs like Music To Watch Girls By, Happy Heart, Speak Softly Love and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and of course Moon River. The Williams family has very kindly allowed me to use clips of Andy featuring everyone from Dick Van Dyke to John Wayne and Bobby Darin, you name it. When I do Love Story, Andy sings it with me on the big screen. It brings back great memories for thousands of people.

What else does the show contain?

I do a section of Osmonds’ material – Love Me For a Reason, Crazy Horses and Let Me In. I also do a comedy section. During A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock’n’Roll, I put masks of Donny and Marie on people from the audience, so I can get back at my siblings!

Tell us about your special guest on this show, Charlie Green?

I first saw Charlie on Britain’s Got Talent. He is amazing and is popular with Andy Williams’ fans but also has a young fan base as well. It would be hard to find anyone who would represent Andy’s legacy so well. Andy’s brothers saw him perform in Branson, Missouri, at the Andy Williams Theatre and fell in love with him. Andy’s manager said ‘He is the closest thing to Andy I have ever seen’ - now that is an endorsement if ever I heard one.

What do you think made Andy so special as a performer?

He had such a smooth voice. You could tell he was a genuinely nice guy. I say: “Please don’t think I could ever sound like him, but let’s celebrate his melodies together.” The show is coming from a sincere place. There are not many people who could pull it off because they wouldn’t have that connection with Andy.

What do you remember about working with Elvis?

We shared a dressing room at the Las Vegas Hilton. So my parents thought it would be cute for me to do a number dressed as Elvis. But one night I was sick on stage. The problem was that the food was free for performers, and I was a precocious kid ordering orange freezies and grilled cheese sandwiches like they were going out of fashion. I threw up all over the front row. My brothers picked me up and I kept going. But then I saw that Elvis was watching from the lighting box, and I was mortified about it.

You have always had a special relationship with British audiences. Can you put this into words?

For me it’s special in the UK because it is not just about me being an Osmond. It’s about me being me. I’ve done reality TV shows in the UK and that has put me out there. It’s just for fun and not to sell anything. The British public like that. They like people who can laugh at themselves. And there’s a lot to laugh at if you look at my history! In the show, I do a rocking version of Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool with a flaming guitar. Everyone over the age of 20 knows all the words.

You were tremendous on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. Did you have a good time on the show?

I loved it. Although they cut out a lot of the stuff that I did. I can’t help it, but I sing all the time. My wife calls me the little jukebox. I just can’t stop! The producers of I’m a Celebrity didn’t want to pay the clearance fees, so in the jungle we wrote our own songs.

You are clearly a very close family off stage, as well as on. What’s your secret?

Because we were raised together, we learned to get over things very quickly. We still have scars, but we really love each other. We had great parents who loved each other and gave us a great code of life. We always put family first, but how we treat each other really matters.

Having enjoyed huge success over more than 50 years in showbiz, you remain very well balanced and happy. How have you managed that?

After this many years in the business, we could have sat back and just celebrated what we’d done. But the way I was raised was always to look for improvements. My dad was an Army sergeant, and after every show, he made us examine what was wrong with it. We were all hard on ourselves. When Long Haired Lover from Liverpool was number one, I said to him, “Dad, isn’t that cool?” He just gave me a broom and told me to clean the yard. But I’m very grateful for that. That approach saved us because it taught us not to believe our own hype. I’ve never taken myself seriously. That’s my secret to being happy!

  • The “Jimmy Osmond: Moon River and Me” tour – Darlington Hippodrome, February 12; Whitley Bay, Playhouse, February 25; Tickets available from www.jimmyosmond.com