Manic years of manic screaming fans were Merrill’s wake-up call
By Martin Hutchinson
Once Osmondmania had run its course, the various brothers embarked upon solo careers.
After Alan and Wayne, Merrill was the middle of the five original performing brothers. Jay was born two years after Merrill, and Donny came two years after that, and thet were heavily influenced by country music.
As well as performing sporadically with various Osmond Brothers line-ups, Merrill became a very successful act on the American Country Music scene, and of course, has been touring alongside brothers Jay and Jimmy.
Now in his mid-sixties and sporting distinguished white hair and beard, Merrill is as busy as ever.
“I’m doing well, thank you, and working my tail off. As well as my singing, I’ve been asked by the Mormon College in Utah to work up an Arts Program for the college.”
With the Osmonds back in the seventies, Merrill shared lead vocal duties with Donny and recalls those heady days.
“Osmondmania was a shock that went around the world. Never having chosen my vocation, I went from the Barbershop quartet world to The Andy Williams Show, and then to the studios recording One Bad Apple; and then to go on stage in front of thousands of screaming girls was an experience.
“It was the most amazing time,” he said.
But it wasn’t all Merrill expected, as he explains.
“I’ll never forget our first concert in Cleveland. We needed big amplifiers to make ourselves heard. We had no idea we would need all this stuff. They (the audience) would never listen, they were screaming during the songs and not applauding – just screaming.
“It was certainly a wake-up call. We just got down to business in the end. We were just amazed and lived in a bubble – we were so protected.”
As well as Merrill himself, after the manic years passed, the Osmond Brothers re-invented themselves as a Country act.
“I do enjoy country music and we sang it because of the harmonies, and we had a couple of bog hits in the US Country charts.”
Sadly though, this new success wasn’t repeated in the UK, where the brothers had a massive fan-base, and Merrill is mystified why they didn’t have success with the new music.
“I dunno really, I think maybe the people saw us in one way and didn’t want to accept us as anything else.”
Merrill is a frequent visitor to the UK and performs here regularly, but it seems strange that his UK dates this year are rock shows.
“That’s right. I love rock music as wel, l and these shows will be rock shows and no country in them either.”
So, what can we expect of the Osmond who lists Crazy Horses and Down By The Lazy River as his favourite Osmond tracks?
“Well, what I might do is a tribute to Paul McCartney, as well as some (Led) Zeppelin and Cream, and of course my four-piece band and I will do all the hits. It’s where Merrill wanted to go and I have fulfilled my dream.”
There is only a couple of UK dates in the diary at the moment, but Merrill tells me there could be more in the future.
“I’m talking to a promoter about a fuller tour, but it’s taking time.”
Merrill Osmond and his band performing around the country throughout the year. Tickets are available from Box Offices and all the usual agencies.