Donny Osmond: You Ask The Questions

Do you row with your siblings? And would you ever return to Wales?
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The Independent Online

Donald "Donny" Clark Osmond first appeared on The Andy Williams Show in 1963, aged six. The heart-throb of The Osmonds, he achieved solo fame with his 1972 No 1 "Puppy Love". After struggling with depression in the 1980s, his subsequent performance in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat revitalised his career and he released his 54th album, What I Meant to Say, last year. Donny is 47 and has been married to Debbie for 27 years. They have five sons, and their first grandson was born in August.

Did becoming a grandfather recently make you feel old?

I definitely don't feel old, and there's a lot more steam left in this engine! Dylan was born in Salt Lake City with 10 fingers and toes, and a good set of lungs. The parents already aren't getting any sleep but I just have to laugh at that and say, "Now you know what we went through" . The greatest part about being a grandpa is that when they cry you just hand them back.

Is your favourite colour still purple, as it was when I was eight?

I'm so sorry I inspired all these women to love purple! I don't mind it now, I guess, but I won't wear it any more.

What was your worst groupie experience?

Most recently I was doing a show in Belfast and I came off stage, very sweaty, very hot, and I finally got to my dressing room, closed the door and thought, "Phew, I'm finally by myself". Suddenly these two ladies hopped out of the shower and scared the living daylights out of me! You can imagine, I was totally freaked out! I've no idea how they got in and the security people had no idea either. I was very polite with them but I escorted them out of the room quickly. My wife wasn't best pleased either.

Your 54th album was called What I Meant to Say; why did it take you 54 albums to say it?

I didn't know how to say it. I always wanted to write my own stuff but I just didn't have the chutzpah to do it. I just couldn't put what I was feeling into the music; it took a long time to do it and I'm so happy that it paid off. I never thought I'd see a Top 10 record again!

How do you feel about your Welsh heritage and would you ever consider leaving dusty Utah to come and live in wet but wonderfully green Wales?

Nope. Why you think we moved away? But I definitely feel my Welsh ancestry and I'm proud of it. Actually, I tracked down some of my ancestors on my mother's side recently.

A character in a book I have gives this answer when asked what she believes in: "I have faith in Donny Osmond. If Donny was found to be a junkie or a wife beater, I wouldn't believe in anything any more." What's it like to be a symbol for moral goodness?

Well, first of all I guess it's the ultimate compliment you can give somebody, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on you. I've certainly made my share of mistakes in life and that comes out in my book. I was really worried about coming out with this book because of that very ideal - you work so hard to keep a nice, good, clean Osmond image and I kind of dispel a lot of that in this book. When it came out my brother Jay said: "Thank you for finally saying what I've wanted to say all my life". Nobody's perfect, not even Donny Osmond, but the great thing is that we all stuck together and that's the really redeeming thing about it all for me.

Take That were my teen pin-ups. How did you find working with Gary Barlow on your last two albums? REBECCA DA SILVA, LONDON

Gary's great, and we identified closely with each other because we've both been through very similar experiences on stage and through our professional life. He helped me write and produce many of the tracks on the albums. He's got his hands in a lot of musical pies, that man.

What's the worst row you've ever had with your brothers or your sister?

I think Marie and I definitely have the most volatile relationship. Once when we were doing our chat show, we kinda ripped each other's heads off in between commercials. When we came back you could hear a pin drop in the audience. But we made up afterwards and had a good laugh.

Do you think being famous from a young age catches up with artists eventually?

It does catch up to you because if you're not careful you start believing the hype. The other bad thing is that you get caught into this time-warp where everybody remembers you as a kid. How did I overcome it? I almost didn't. It was a tough decade, the 1980s, a really difficult time, but I was lucky to have the support of family. I know Michael Jackson and that's the one thing he always asks me about because he doesn't have such a close family. Our conversations always go back to family.

If you were not a singer what would you be doing?

I'd be Johnny Depp.

How different do you find appearing on UK chat shows like The Kumars as opposed to American chat shows?

I can really let my hair down here. I love British humour. In America sometimes we take ourselves just a little bit too seriously and everybody's just a little afraid to take the mickey out of themselves, whereas here you can just have fun.

What do you think about celebrities like Britney Spears who marry and divorce in quick succession?

I think it's stupid that you can get married for five minutes and then just decide you've made a mistake. It cheapens the institution of marriage.

How does it feel to still be adored after all these years?

I'm very lucky that this is my 42nd year in show business and I'm still going strong.

Donny Osmond's autobiography, 'Life is What you Make It', is out now, priced £17.99