Country man Merrill gets ready for Blackpool rock

Merrill Osmond is performing at Viva Blackpool on Monday
Merrill Osmond is performing at Viva Blackpool on Monday
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Once Osmondmania had run its course, the various brothers embarked upon solo careers and Merrill Osmond was no exception.

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 was heavily influenced by country music, writes Martin Hutchinson.

It was the most amazing time

As well as performing sporadically with various Osmond Brother 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, and will be appearing in Blackpool on Monday.

“I’m doing well thank you and working my tail off,” he said.

“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,” Merrill said.

“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.”

But it wasn’t all Merrill expected, as he explains: “I’ll never forget our first concert in Cleveland.

“We needed bi-amplifiers to make ourselves heard.

“We had no idea that 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,” he says. “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 reinvented themselves as a country act.

“I do enjoy country music and we sang it because of the harmonies, and we had a couple of big 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 as to why they didn’t have success with the new music.

“I dunno really,” he said. “I think maybe that 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,” he says. “I love rock music as well 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.”

• Memories with the Legendary Merrill Osmond, Viva Blackpool, Monday.

Call 01253 297297 or visit www.vivablackpool.com to book.