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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 13:53 GMT
Donny Osmond
Donny Osmond
Breeze On By is Donny's biggest UK hit for 30 years
In a HardTalk Extra interview screened on 3 December, Donny Osmond talked to Noel Thompson about Puppy Love, his slide into obscurity and finding his own voice.

In the mid-70s, Donny Osmond was at the top of the world.

He had broken away from his brothers, The Osmonds, to forge a successful solo career. He and his sister Marie fronted The Donny and Marie Show, which was a huge hit worldwide.

Now in 2004 he's back in the charts again -- his new album, What I Meant To Say, is the first time in a 42-year career that he's performed his own songs.

Donny told Noel Thompson: "I think I am a pretty good songwriter, I think I have a lot to say .. now that I've opened up this door I'm really enjoying the feeling of singing my own music and my own melodies and saying what I really want to say.

"That door's never going to close again. Once you've tasted that drug I'll call it, of being able to let things out from your soul, you've got to keep going."

The legacy of Puppy Love

It's taken Donny a long time to recover from his early success. As he puts it, it's one thing to gain a career but it's quite another to maintain it over the years.

"I grew up with everybody else, but in their minds I'm stuck there in child's play land".

Donny's pop image also harmed the rest of his family. The Osmond Brothers were at that time moving towards a more rock style -- as evidenced by their hit Crazy Horses.

But Donny's teeny-bopper image meant their credibility was zero -- and the brothers' careers were over.
I remember hiring a publicist who figured out this whole campaign to get me busted for drugs and change my image
Donny Osmond

"If you dig into the history of the Osmond Brothers it sounded like the Who, and Zeppelin, that was the direction of the Osmond Brothers, but this career over here named Donny Osmond that was so popular with young teenagers, that's where all the emphasis was put.

"That was the money-making machine for the record company, for the family and for so many other people."

It wasn't until he co-wrote his memoirs in the late Nineties that he realised how much his brothers had come to resent the damage Donny's image had done.

He claims that they have now reconciled, but it's clear that the revelations upset him.

A has-been at 20?

In the eighties, Donny's career was in the doldrums. At just 20, he was told he was a has-been.

The family had lost all the money they had made, and Donny was forced to work to live.

"I remember hiring a publicist who figured out this whole campaign to get me busted for drugs and change my image .. he said you should start drinking, at least get caught with a drink in your hand, go to some parties, get some pictures with some booze in your hands. And you know, I considered it for five minutes. But is that what I have to do to get music heard?"
I used to really hate the Puppy Love Donny Osmond. I used to really hate the Donny and Marie Donny Osmond. But you know what, those guys put me where I am today
Donny Osmond

As well as his image problem, Donny was struggling mentally -- he developed social anxiety disorder, which led to paralysing stage fright.

He was terrified of delivering any less than a perfect performance, and he admits now that some nights he would rather have died than gone on stage.

But the famous Osmond work ethic saved him -- and he says he's now able to deal with his fears far better.

Finding his own voice

Donny now admits that he's at peace with himself. Reviewers often comment that the new Donny seems comfortable in his skin -- and it's clear that new ease is playing well with his fans, both old and new.

Donny Osmond has finally found his own voice, and it suits him.

"I used to really hate the Puppy Love Donny Osmond. I used to really hate the Donny and Marie Donny Osmond. But you know what, those guys put me where I am today."

HARDtalk Extra can be seen on Fridays on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT.

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

SEE ALSO:
Jeremy Irons
25 Nov 04 |  Hardtalk
Baroness Susan Greenfield
23 Nov 04 |  Hardtalk
Tom Jones and Jools Holland
10 Nov 04 |  Hardtalk
Harry Shearer - a radio rebel?
10 Nov 04 |  Hardtalk


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