Merrill Osmond plays Hastings date

Not many people at the age of 68 can boast a 62-year career. Not many have had the career Merrill Osmond has had.

Merrill by Dustin P Smith Skywall Photography
Merrill by Dustin P Smith Skywall Photography

And he is delighted to be touring the UK once again, a place that has always embraced the Osmonds from the very earliest days.

He will be at Hastings’ White Rock Theatre on Sunday, September 12 – part of a tour which comes on the back of his new live album for 2021, Merrill Osmond – Live In London, recorded during a socially distanced concert at Indigo at the O2 earlier this summer. Merrill, one of the first American artists to perform live to a UK audience since the beginning of the pandemic, took it as a chance to celebrate his long and hugely successful career both as a solo artist and a member of the Osmonds. The album features covers of some of the greatest songs of all time including Can’t Help Falling In Love, Superstition, Ain’t No Sunshine and Born To Be Wild. The album also features live renditions of the Osmonds’ biggest hits including One Bad Apple, Let Me In, Love Me For A Reason, The Proud One and Crazy Horses.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“I couldn’t have a full crowd for obvious reasons. It was socially distanced. But we had a nice little crowd, and I brought a lot of new material, songs that had never even been heard, and it gave me a chance to speak a little to the people. After a year when nobody has been able to go out, it was great to be on stage with the wonderful band.”

The pandemic was horrible, absolutely no doubt of that, but Merrill admits he enjoyed the enforced leisure: “I had a daughter who had Covid, but she is fine. Everybody else is fine. We have had our shots. And for me, the whole thing was almost therapeutic. Historically vacations for an Osmond in 60 years have been incredibly rare. I have never done so much laundry or cleaning dishes. Plus I had a chance to do a lot of writing and reading and journaling, doing all sorts of things I never had a chance to do. I have to say I enjoyed it.”

A remarkable year all the same – in a career that has been beyond remarkable.

“The experiences that the Osmonds have had have just been unbelievable. You just wouldn’t believe all the stories I have to share.

“We did the Andy Williams Show and we did the Osmonds Family TV shows and the whole thing of the 70s was just incredible.

“Who would ever have thought that Led Zeppelin would have invited us onto their stage or that Paul McCartney would have supported us so much over the years.

“We have gone through the whole gamut of discourse in the press over the years but the people have always really supported us. Elvis really supported us. We knew him well. He was a great guy. We would talk to each other. He made a lot of statements in support of us. He said if your fans’ children start coming along to see you, then you will know that you will have bridged the generation gap. We had the same costume designer as Elvis had. Our mother was like Elvis’ second mother.”

Merrill has got 15 grandchildren now: “They look on YouTube and they see videos of me jumping and clowning around and they don’t know what to make of it. They don’t know what to say.

“And they see footage of the mania that we had, and they just don’t understand it.”

Mind you, Merrill too admits he struggles, even now, to understand what it was all about.

He recalls a 90-minute gig in Manchester at the height of Osmonds hysteria. They started a song and then had to stop. They started again and then had to stop again. And so it went on. They managed just the one song in that hour and a half.

“For me, it was just mind-blowing. We were looking out into the audience and we were seeing what was going on.

“We were not scared for us. We were scared for them with all the pushing and shoving. The bobbies were doing an amazing job just trying to keep control.”

So what was going on?

“I think it was a combination of things, different factors, perhaps that we represented something, that we represented goodness and family and a lot of good things that these kids might not have had themselves and that maybe we were able to be an example for them. I am not trying to sound anything other than grateful, but maybe we were something of a mainstay for them in their family environments. I don’t know.

“Why that should create mania, I don’t know, but it crossed barriers. We started out in barbershop harmony and we ended up as rockers and teen idols. I am just grateful for the remarkable journey that we have had.”