MICK Burgess chats to Jay Osmond ahead of The Osmonds’ show in the unlikely venue of at St Nicholas Cathedral, in Newcastle

Are you looking forward to starting your latest tour?

The UK is a second home for us. We love it there. We`ve been coming here since 1971, at least twice a year so we love it and we`re looking forward to putting on our show for you all.

It`s billed as The Osmonds – Rockin` Christmas. Will there be some Christmas themed songs alongside The Osmonds classics?

With this show it`ll be everything you could imagine. We`ll be doing our hits of course. Me and Merrill have just recorded a new album called a Very Merry Rocking Good Christmas. We`re really proud of it so we`ll do cuts from that. There`s also a couple of songs in there that really go back to the true meaning of Christmas. There`ll be videos and dancers so it`ll be quite a show. We also like to get into the audience and have them be part of the show. For two hours it just takes people`s minds away from the pressures of life and to celebrate the wonderful Christmas time. It`s a very eclectic show.

The show has just been moved from the City Hall to the wonderful St. Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle. That will make quite a backdrop for your show?

Newcastle cathedral, how beautiful is that going to be? That will be wonderful to play there. I`m a big fan of the beautiful cathedrals and castles you have in the UK.

You have had an incredible career going back years. How old were you when you first performed together?

We go back to 1957. I was two and a half years old and I was used as a novelty. I was in nappies. We got our first big break after Walt Disney discovered us and he put us on his television shows and from there we were with Andy Williams for nine years and because of him we learned all of our instruments and all those crazy things.

When you had that huge success in the `70`s, it was akin to Beatlemania. How was it being in the middle of all of that?

If you go back to 1971, we were known as Andy Williams background singers. There were four of us then Merrill, me, Alan and Wayne then Donny joined us and we had hit records, we lost that image of being background singers and we became Pop stars. When we got to England it was crazy. It was really exciting to see that response from the fans. I feel so blessed that Merrill and I are still doing this after all these years.

You even had your own cartoon show. What did it feel like watching a cartoon of yourself?

That was great. We did our own voices too. When I got married my wife once said that I`m sometimes like a cartoon so I said that I`d show her something funny and put it on. It was great fun, she`d never seen me as a cartoon before.

As a band you`ve covered many types of music from Pop, Country, Barbershop, Rock `n` Roll, ballads and even Hard Rock. Did that variety keep things fresh for you?

We can`t be pigeonholed. We`ve played all kinds of music. We were known as the first Boy Band, we were Rockers, we danced and played our instruments and we were a Pop group then we were Country. People can`t categorise us as we grew up listening to all kinds of music.

One of your biggest hits, Crazy Horses, rocked as hard as the heaviest rock bands of the time. What inspired you to write that?

Most of the times when we wrote, my brothers would wait for me to pull a beat together and then Merrill would join me on the bass and Wayne and Alan would then join in. So, I played this cool beat that I`d heard in my brain and all of a sudden Wayne came in with the guitar riff and Merrill walked in and put his bass to it. Alan came in with “Crazy Horses” from out of nowhere and we thought it sounded so cool.

What sort of bands were you listening to at that time?

Back in `72 or `73 I was into Hard Rock. I was always a Led Zeppelin and a John Bonham fan. One time we were playing at Earl`s Court the night before Zeppelin played there and we used the same sound equipment. There was a joke going around about who was the loudest band. We went to their show and they said to us that they played loud but we had to play louder to get over the screaming girls. Robert Plant had this crazy idea and asked if we`d go up on stage during Stairway To Heaven as they had percussive instruments that I could use. I got up on stage right next to Bonham, and he became a wonderful friend, and played along to Stairway To Heaven on the congas. Are you kidding me? I`ll cherish that moment forever. The funny thing is when we looked out into our audience all we could see were flash cubes. When I looked out in to Zeppelin`s crowd it was all hair.

Your songs have been covered by many artists with Boyzone notably taking Love Me For A Reason to Number 1 in the UK. Do you enjoy hearing people interpret your songs in their own way?

I do like to hear them and consider it a real tribute. The funniest thing though is to go onto You Tube to see how many different versions there are of Crazy Horses and I think it`s such an honour and really nice to hear that.

Looking forward, what do you have lined up for the future?

Next year we plan to do some festivals in the summer and we`ll be playing some shows in Europe as well. We`ll certainly be having a very busy year again.

  • Jay and Merrill Osmond perform at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle on November 17