Following a fantastic Roscommon summer, what’s next? Well, as the frantic covering of school books has been completed, the uniforms have been ironed and the kiddies, having returned to school, are getting back into a routine, it’s time for us grown-ups to enjoy the magic that is autumn.
Now I don’t know about you readers, but autumn usually involves a fair bit of reflection on my part, and there’s nothing I love more than sitting in my window, glass of Merlot in hand, and, through the soft, glorious light of a Roscommon skyline, reflecting on times past. Well that’s exactly what happened to me last week when, out of the blue, I was offered an exclusive interview with one of my ‘teen-hood’ idols, Jimmy Osmond. Okay, to be honest, his big bro Donny was the object of my stalkings, sorry affections, (they never proved a thing), and, as I’d already netted the exclusive with my heartthrob (it’s a ‘70s term, ask yer mammy), when he played Dublin’s Point Theatre in the noughties, it was with absolute delight that I was honoured to accept Jimmy’s kind invitation to chat about his new venture – where he pays tribute to his ‘buddy’ and mentor, the late, great Mr. Andy Williams.
So, on behalf of you, our lovely readers, many of whom I’ve no doubt will be keen to attend either of Jimmy’s walk-down-memory-lane type shows, I bit the bullet and dialled his ‘cell phone’ in Utah, USA. Yep, hubby will be so thrilled when the bill arrives! (At this point I’ll add, in accordance with GDPR guidelines, that I deleted his number following our chat…but you still have mine Jimmy, so, call me!).
Of course, the more mature Rossies among you will remember little Jimmy Osmond as the baby of the all-singing, all-dancing (squeaky clean, with molars to die for), Osmond family whose ‘scouse’ themed, albeit cheesy little ditty ‘Long Haired Lover from Liverpool,’ was a huge chart success back in 1972, claiming the coveted Christmas number one slot. Now 55 years old and celebrating over 50 years in showbiz, Jimmy is as bubbly and friendly as ever.
“I never grew up. I’m still little Jimmy Osmond, it’s so much fun to do what you love for so many years. It’s not like work!” says the pop idol who credits Williams himself with providing him with the inspiration to take this new show ‘Moon River and Me,’ on the road.
“Actually there was a DVD due to be released before Andy passed away. He wanted to be remembered for his music and he picked his favourite songs and the people he performed them with, and I first performed with Andy on his show at age three. My brothers were discovered by Walt Disney and Andy and his dad saw them and invited them to be on his show and I joined them all when I was three, and it’s been a fairytale ride ever since. I just love what I do”.
It was following Andy’s death (in 2012), that Jimmy, determined to maintain his good friend’s legacy, was delighted to be given the Williams’ family’s blessing to showcase their legendary father’s long and illustrious career through this colourful, interactive production.
“His children here in the States gave me the rights to Andy’s footage. I bring a big digital screen along with me too, and it shows some of Andy’s friends – which included Elvis and the Kennedys –people don’t actually get it until you show them on the screen”.
Osmond is hoping to appeal to a cross-section of fans, from more mature ones like me who’ll remember him from the decade that fashion forgot, (aka the ‘70s), to youngsters who’ll recognise him from certain reality TV shows.
“People remember me,” says Jimmy with what sounds like sincere shock and modesty, adding: “They remember me from the olden days and younger ones know me from I’m a Celebrity get me out of Here!, and from playing Teen Angel on stage in Grease, and Billy Flynn in Chicago, and it’s so great to make that connection”.
Relaxing into our cosy little chat, and settling into my best diplomatic envoy role of always promoting fabulous Roscommon, I felt it my duty to turn the topic towards our fair county and asked Jimmy if himself and wife Michelle had ever visited here?
“No, but I’d love to visit next time I’m in Ireland if everyone’s as friendly as you. I’ve been to Dublin and Belfast and I drove around a little, but I look forward to visiting Roscommon soon. I have never performed there. I’d like to get over and perform there,” enthuses Jimmy after I tell him what a wonderful facility we have in our Roscommon Arts Centre.
The dad of four, who is an advocate for children’s literacy in the US, also tells me his daughter Sophia (24) will be making the journey to our Emerald Isle to join him on stage.
“Sophia, who is beautiful like her mother, has recorded with me in the past, and she is the only family member coming with me on this occasion”.
Explaining how he proudly once “gigged” with Frank Sinatra, Jimmy reveals how he also had the pleasure or performing a duet with the crooner’s eldest daughter, Nancy.
“I sang ‘Something Stupid’ with Nancy and my daughter Sophia and I recorded it years later. We played it for Nancy and she loved it, so we put it on the album”.
As well as daughter Sophia, Jimmy and Michele have three other children; Zack, Arthur and Bella, who all share their Utah home with the family’s “two sheep and a Maltese puppy”.
An award-winning producer for the BBC, PBS, ABC and The Disney Channel), the devout Mormon is the ‘owner’ of what was the biggest selling single of the year, (in 1972), spending a staggering 27 weeks in the charts, catapulting the then little Jimmy O into the Guinness Book of Records as being the youngest person ever to top the UK charts, (a record, I believe, he still holds today)!
We wish Jimmy well on his tour and we’re sure Roscommon show-goers who make the trip to either Limerick or Dublin will be left screaming for more.