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“We Were Just Trying To Be Normal”

Written by on February 19, 2022

Donny Osmond is content right now. The father of five sons, 12 grandchildren and married to his wife, Debbie, for. more than 40 years, Osmond is happy doing Las Vegas residencies.

But there was a time in his career when the world was filled with a lot more pressure and problems. Fortunately, he had a friend going through the same thing — pop superstar Michael Jackson.

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In an interview with the New York Post’s Page Six, Osmond opened up about his long friendship with Jackson. They first met as kids performing with their brothers in 1971 in Toronto.

“I remember seeing Michael peeking out the side of the curtain watching me during the show,” Osmond recalled. “In hindsight that was a pretty amazing moment, but at the moment it was like, ‘There’s my buddy looking at me stage right,’” Osmond recalled, adding how earlier in the day they had played backstage like two normal 13-year-olds. “It’s really difficult talking about … these two little teenagers who are just selling amazing amounts of records and having number-one records and very powerful recording artists, and all they want to do is just be kids.

The two stayed in touch, and got together as often as schedules permitted. Osmond recalled going to see the movie The Dark Crystal with Jackson, who insisted they wear trench coats, wigs and sunglasses as a disguise. “We were just trying to be normal,” Osmond said. But, he confessed, everyone knew it was them.

Osmond’s career hit a lull in the 1980s, while Jackson’s soared with the release of Thriller. Osmond was one of the first to hear it.

He asked his old friend for advice on how to jump-start his career. “I couldn’t get a record deal. I couldn’t get arrested,” he remembered.

Jackson was blut.

‘”Well, you got to change your name. Your name is poison!’”

Osmond didn’t like hearing that. But a few years later, he realized how solid the advice was.

“But what’s interesting is that he told me that in ’83, and it wasn’t until 1989, that (Osmond’s hit) “Soldier of Love” became a hit without my name. So Michael was right.”

Radio DJs had refused to spin anything by Osmond, but the song was good. So they played it, but didn’t say who the singer was — until it was a hit.

“The greatest thing that ever happened to me was I lost my career,” Osmond mused, taking stock in the fact that failure makes you more grateful when you succeed. “And it’s so strange for me to hear me say that because the ’80s were the worst decade of my life because I didn’t have a career.”

The last time they spoke was when Jackson called about a year before his 2009 death.

“I said, ‘Mike, where are you?’ He says, ‘I can’t tell you.’ I said, ‘Mike, come on. You’re talking to me. Where are you?’ He said, ‘Please don’t tell anybody, but I’m in Phoenix. I rented a tour bus and I got my kids and we drove to Phoenix and I’m in hiding right now.’

Osmond extended his hand.

“I said, ‘It’s a nine-hour drive to my home in Utah. I want your kids to go swimming with my kids. You’re going to have a wonderful conversation with my wife and myself. And I’m going to bring some normalcy into your life.’

“And he said, ‘I really need that right now.’ But he never took me up on it.”


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