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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Donny Osmond
Aired March 27, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Donny Osmond, an entertainment legend, still working his magic after 40 years. He'll open up about the death of his beloved mother, his sister, Marie's, bouts with depression, and his own social phobia that not only kept him from going on stage, it brought him to the brink of a breakdown.
Donny Osmond, in-depth and personal, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It is always a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of my favorite people, one of my favorite performers and one of my favorite guys, too, Donny Osmond. Last time he was on it was 1999. I can't believe it.
Child star, teen idol, TV host, all-around entertainer. New CD's in all the stores now, "What I Meant to Say." We're going to hear some portion of that main title song. It features ten songs written and produced by Donny himself.
What led to this?
DONNY OSMOND, SINGER: Well, I decided to write my own material for once.
KING: You've never done that?
OSMOND: Well, I've dabbled into it here and there, Larry, but never really seriously got involved in it because I was always told what to sing in my whole life. But it got to the point where I thought, you know, if I'm going to continue in this business after 42 years or so, I've got to write my own stuff.
And this is my 54th album. So out of all 54, this is the first one that I've written and produced. So I have to say it's the one I'm most proud of.
KING: Is this the one in England now?
OSMOND: Yes, this is the one. As a matter of fact, I just...
KING: Tell me that story. What's going on in England?
OSMOND: Boy, that's amazing what's happened over there. It's like it's full circle again, selling out 15,000-seat arenas, you know. We put the tickets on sale for the fall tour that's coming up this fall, and it's practically sold out a year in advance.
KING: The CD's already out there? OSMOND: Yes, the single, "Breeze on By," when I wrote that, I thought, "I want to write something that's familiar sounding, but yet a new song." How do you do that? Because with AC Radio, you've got to -- they want familiar songs.
So I took George Benson's "Breezing." I thought, "What a great riff," the old Bobby Womack song. So I said, "I want to write a song over the top of it." "I've got sunshine everyday," with that riff, and released it, and it came all the way up the charts. It became my first top ten in over 30 years over there.
KING: So this is like a new career all over again?
KING: Why England do you think?
OSMOND: I don't know, Larry. I've always tried to figure that out, because I have a whole different career over there.
KING: Were the Osmonds big in England?
OSMOND: Huge. It was called "Osmond Mania."
OSMOND: It really was, yes. And it depends on where you go in the world. Like, for instance, when we went to France back in the '70s, they didn't know "Puppy Love." They didn't know any of those songs. "Crazy Horses" was with the first -- "Crazy horses" -- the first song they ever heard.
I'll never forget walking out on stage in these white jumpsuits. And the lights go on. And we look at the clientele out in the audience. They're all long-haired hippies. They think they're going to listen to a heavy-metal rock-and-roll band. And I'm singing "Puppy Love" up there. Now, get me off this stage, you know?
KING: Did they like it?
OSMOND: Well, they didn't throw beer bottles at me like I thought they were going to.
KING: How old are you now?
KING: How long have you been in the business?
OSMOND: Forty-two years.
KING: Started at five? OSMOND: Started at five on "The Andy Williams Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donny?
OSMOND: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, how old are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, and you sing along with your brothers, huh?
OSMOND: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know, "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby"?
OSMOND: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Yes, sir, that's my baby. No, sir, don't mean maybe. Yes, sir, that's my baby now. Yes, ma'am, we've decided. No, ma'am, we won't hide it...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How did the Osmonds, before we get back to this new CD and listen to some -- how did the Osmonds get to be the Osmonds? Who found you?
OSMOND: Well, it was Andy Williams. It was on...
KING: But how did he even come to see you?
OSMOND: They went to Disneyland. And they were singing on the streets of Disneyland -- or they were the walking the streets. And there with this barbershop quartet that saw my brothers dressed alike. And they thought, "You look like a barbershop quartet, cute little kids." They said, "We sing once in a while." And they sang them a song. And then this quartet sang my brothers a song, went back and forth, and it was almost like an attraction on the streets, all these people gathered around.
And then they took my brothers into their boss, who was Tommy Walker at the time, and they put them on a Disney show. And that's where Andy Williams' father saw them.
KING: Were you parents singers?
OSMOND: My father was in a choral group. My mother used to play the saxophone, but nothing professional. KING: Your mom passed away recently?
OSMOND: Last year. It'll be a year in May.
KING: And she was sick for a long time?
OSMOND: She had a stroke, Larry. And she suffered for like 2 1/2 years. It's a tough time.
KING: How difficult was it for you? Because the Osmonds are so close a family.
OSMOND: Well, you know, with our belief system -- you're familiar with that -- we know we're going to see her again. But it was a hard time in my life, and it was during the time that I was writing this album. And I wrote this song for my children called "Whenever You're in Trouble."
And whenever I -- when I finished it, I went back and I looked at those lyrics. And I realized this whole concept of being there for your children whenever and whatever you do, wherever you are, came from my mom. And, I mean, I just sat there and wept when I read these lyrics, after I finished writing this song.
Well, hold on.
KING: Go ahead.
OSMOND (SINGING): Tell me from the heart, in your eyes I see the pain. It's tearing you apart. Let me take it all away. You know someone believes in you and they love you no matter what you do. You know you are home, and you're not alone, when you hear me say.
Whenever you're in trouble, whenever you may need me, I will fight for you, I will help you through. Whenever life's deceiving, I'll give you the meaning. No matter where you are, you're always in my heart. Whenever you're in trouble, I will be right here.
OSMOND: And when I read those, I thought, "That's the philosophy that my mother taught me." So it was really a song from her through me to my children.
KING: Is it hard for you to sing emotionally?
OSMOND: It gets to me every time. Every time.
KING: Your career has really -- a weird kind of career, right? But for example...
OSMOND: Well, I don't know if I'd say weird, but...
KING: Well, I mean, you can have your own thing...
OSMOND: It has been up and down. KING: "Donny and Marie," one of the best talk shows in the world.
OSMOND: Thank you.
KING: They canceled it, made a mistake, I think that was a mistake.
OSMOND: I think so, too.
KING: That was a fun show.
OSMOND: We started to get the groove, and they pulled the plug.
KING: I know. Just because, what, one or two stations moved it, right?
OSMOND: Yes, I mean, when you get right down to it, you know, it's a political thing. You know the business.
KING: What happened to the "Pyramid"? You were hosting the "Pyramid." You were a great quiz show host.
OSMOND: Thank you. I had the time of my life.
KING: Did Dick Clark pick you to do it?
OSMOND: Dick was our executive producer. And it was a Sony production. But again, you know, in the same situation...
KING: What happened to that?
OSMOND: Bean counters, you know, they make the decisions. They say, "Oh, it doesn't fit the model in the clientele." And it gets very complicated. They thought they could make a little bit more money on a cheaper show. And they wished they had the ratings that I had for them at this time.
KING: You had an Emmy nomination?
OSMOND: Yes, an Emmy nomination for the "Donny and Marie" and for "Pyramid." So I have done so many different kinds of things. But you know what? That's the kind of artist I am.
KING: Yes, you are.
OSMOND: You know, give me a challenge, let me jump into it, and get the...
KING: Is it difficult to have soared and then come down?
OSMOND: It's hard.
KING: It's a rollercoaster? OSMOND: It's very hard. Because once you taste success...
KING: And you had phenomenal success.
OSMOND: Unbelievable, in the '70s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (1@8:36): The nominees for musical variety act of the year are...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the People's Choice...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the best vocal team of the year...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the winner is...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donny and Marie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donny and Marie Osmond.
DONNY AND MARIE OSMOND (SINGING): We've got a winning combination, ideal situation, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND: And then it's taken away. You do all you can to get that drug again. But if it weren't for my principles and my home life, having a successful marriage and children, that thing right there, the stability in my life, I would keep chasing that drug. And I think, Larry, the best thing that ever happened to me was I lost it all. I lost everything.
KING: And why did you lose it? What happened to the Osmonds?
OSMOND: There's a lot of dynamics involved. Financially, I guess, you know, bad advisers. You know, it's the typically story of show business, people squander the money.
But there's another thing that happens. It's a natural phenomenon that when you hit as a little kid, as a teenybopper, we'll call it, everybody who used to like you back in that period of time grow up and they leave you back there.
And when they realize, "Oh, he grew up, too." And it took many, many years for me to educate the public, "Oh, he's not just..."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): And they called it puppy love. What is it called? Oh, I guess they'll never know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND: You know, I mean, I still do that song in concert. I love doing it. But I just sit down at the piano by myself and just do a jazz rendition of "Puppy Love."
KING: We'll be right back with Donny Osmond, an extraordinary talent who keeps on keeping on. The title of the new CD now out is "What I Meant to Say."
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): And they called it puppy love. Oh, I guess they'll never know how we old hearts really feel and why I love her so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Donny Osmond.
Billboard Magazine, in a review of the album, "What I Meant to Say," said, "'What I Meant to Say' is an inspired effort from a performer who has been working his magic for an astonishing 40 years now. And he has never sounded better."
Is your voice better?
OSMOND: I think it's better.
OSMOND: I lost it about a year and a half ago, so I had to -- no, I seriously did. It was an accident.
KING: What do you mean?
OSMOND: I was body-surfing in Hawaii, and I thought I broke my neck. And they had to go in. There's a little scar right there. You can see it. They had to go in and put a little metal plate right behind my Adam's apple.
KING: Could you talk?
OSMOND: No, I couldn't really do much of anything.
KING: For how long?
OSMOND: Three months I went through surgery -- or, I went through recovery. And I had an album to deliver.
Now, wear my shoes for a second, OK? Everything's working for you now. Everything's going strong. You're on track again, and you lose your voice. What are you going to do? So, man, I wore my knees out. I went to therapy everyday and worked on it, just in the studio. And I came back.
KING: And you say back better, because I know that Crosby, Bing Crosby, told me once that he had polyps removed...
KING: ... in a major -- and his voice get deeper.
OSMOND: Well, don't ever let them take a knife. You know, Julie Andrews went through that. It's scary. When you take it for granted, your instrument, I mean, that's my instrument.
I did "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" for six years, almost 2,000 performances. And one night, in Boston, I was sick, had the flu, shouldn't have been out there. And at the very end of the show, I fly over the audience. And I'm singing this really high note. And something pops.
I'm thinking, "Oh, no." But the show was over. I said, "OK, I'll be OK." I'm coughing up blood. I went to the doctor the next day. And I think he's going to say, "OK, three days off, four days off and you're back in form." He hands me a little blackboard and a piece of chalk. He said, "That's how you're going to communicate for three months. You just hemorrhaged your vocal chord." And that was back in 1996 or something like that.
KING: Why didn't you bring that to Broadway?
OSMOND: I wasn't asked.
KING: Because that was a big hit everywhere it went right?
KING: It got rave reviews.
OSMOND: There were two different companies out with "Joseph." There was the Canadian company that I started and then there was the U.S. company that took it to Broadway. But they didn't promote it right. They just didn't do it right. I would like to think that mine was a little more superior production than theirs.
KING: Did you like theater?
OSMOND: I love theater.
KING: So did Marie.
OSMOND: Yes, yes, absolutely. And she was good at it. As a matter of fact...
KING: I saw her do "King and I." She was terrific.
OSMOND: She blew me away.
OSMOND: Beautiful voice. I think she's got a career there if she really wants to get back into that one of these days.
KING: She's born for it, yes. She turned down "Annie, Get Your Gun."
OSMOND: Yes, should've done it.
KING: Should've done it.
OSMOND: Oh, it'll always be there for her. She'll always have a great career, you know, when she wants to just get back into that thing.
I was asked, and this was such a nice compliment -- Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber asked me to star in "The Phantom" on the West End.
OSMOND: And I had to turn it down. I was doing "Pyramid" at the time. I said, "Andrew, Andy, I'd love to do it," you know. And he said, "The door's open any time." So one of these days, I'm going to fulfill that little itch of mine.
KING: You're the perfect age now. You could be the Phantom.
OSMOND: I would love to.
KING: Tell me a little bit about "What I Meant to Say." How did that come about and why is it the title song?
OSMOND: Well, as I writing this song, "I want you," you know, "I want you, I need you, I long to be near you," I said I don't write a song that is just typical, you know? It's so typical of love songs. It's so sappy and yadda yadda yadda, I don't want to do that.
Then I started thinking, "There's the song. That's the concept." Sometimes guys are so afraid to say those sappy things that are so important. It's what they meant to say. Then I started thinking, "What a cool concept for the title track of the album."
It's the first album I've ever written out of all 54 of them, what I meant to say all these years. And I realized that if I'm going to write and produce this thing, it's got to be pretty deep. I can't just write namby-pamby lyrics, you know, just the run of the mill.
So I wrote a song for my wife on there, "My Perfect Rhyme." When we first got married, she asked me to write her a song. And it took me 26 years to do it. And I'll never forget bringing her out to the studio the night that it was done, because I didn't read her the lyrics, I didn't play her the melody, I didn't do anything until it was completed.
She listened to it. She looked at me and she said, "OK, you bought yourself another 26 years." She loved it.
KING: How old are your kids?
OSMOND: My youngest just turned seven. My oldest is about 26.
KING: How many all together?
OSMOND: Five boys, all boys.
KING: All boys.
OSMOND: All boys. And I'm going to make an announcement here. You're the first one to hear this. I'm going to be a grandfather.
KING: You don't look like a grandpa.
OSMOND: I'm going to be a grandpa come August. My son, my second son, is going to have a baby. He's going to kill me.
I'm sorry, Jeremy. I had to say it.
KING: How does that feel? I mean, you're a baby. You're the Osmonds.
OSMOND: I'm probably one of the youngest grandpas on the planet, but I can hardly wait. You know, they say it's fantastic.
KING: How does your wife feel?
OSMOND: She can hardly wait. She can hardly wait.
KING: Do you get together with Marie much?
OSMOND: Marie who?
KING: Do you?
OSMOND: No, to be honest with you, we don't. We don't really associate that much.
KING: You were never close?
OSMOND: No, absolutely we were close. But it's not because we don't want to. It's just that we're so busy. I've got my career, Larry. She's got hers. And it's not like it used to be.
KING: And you both, you don't live far from each other?
OSMOND: Five minutes. Five minutes.
KING: Five minutes could be 5,000...
OSMOND: What are you doing? You're making me feel guilty here.
KING: No, I mean, it is a little strange, you know, because...
OSMOND: No, I don't think so.
KING: ... you were Abbott and Costello.
OSMOND: Why do you refer to them as...
KING: Because you can't say one and not the other. You say Donny, you say Marie.
OSMOND: But, Larry, it depends on who you're talking to. I remember when I was doing "Pyramid," I went up into the audience during a commercial break. And I had opened the show, one of the many -- one of the few shows, I should say, that I opened with a song. A teenager looked up at me as I was signing autographs and says, "Man, I didn't know you could sing."
OSMOND: And some kids come to me and say, "You have a sister?"
KING: Yes, a new generation. I keep forgetting. We grow old, but the world moves on.
OSMOND: So it depends on who you talk to. You know, they don't even know "Puppy Love." They know me from Joseph, maybe, you know?
KING: Right back with up-again Donny Osmond. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THE OSMONDS (SINGING): Fire, flames are getting higher, fire. Fire, flames are getting higher, fire. You keep running and hiding and food in the fridge is behind you. Don't you know, don't you know, the flames you light are going to find you? Fire, flames are getting higher, fire. Fire, flames are getting higher, fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): I want you. I need you. I long to be near you for now and forever more. Hold me in your arms so close and stay by my side every night and day. That is what I meant to say.
Talk and I'll listen. Without you, I'm missing all that you bring to my life. I swear I'll be honest and live by the promise I made. Oh, I'll take the blame. That is what I meant to say.
Help me, I'm falling so deep I can't breathe. There's no reason to live anymore without you here with me.
I want you. I need you. I long to be near you for now and forever more. So break all the silence and tell me what I need to do, what I need to prove, because, baby, I love you. Baby, I love you, and that is what I meant to say, what I meant to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Do you say to yourself, "I should have been writing sooner"?
OSMOND: Yes, I wish I would have started this...
KING: "Why didn't I do this before?"
OSMOND: I don't know. But I've opened up this door to writing, and I don't think it'll ever close, because I'm enjoying it. I really am enjoying it.
Because I think back of experiences that I've had in life and the people I've learned from. And I think back when I was seven-, eight-, nine-years-old, I look back, and conducting in Henry Mancini. And after the show, I pulled the piano player. I said, "Will you teach me some chords?" It was Dave Grusin, you know?
And just associating with those kinds of people at such a young age, and the comedy of Bob Hope, and Lucille Ball, and Danny Thomas, and working with all these people, I learned so much from that type of talent that we don't really have nowadays. We don't have that kind of talent. We don't have that work ethic.
You know, it's tough to build a career. It's tougher to maintain a career. And I'm one of the lucky few.
KING: No more giants...
OSMOND: I don't see any.
KING: ... of that variety, yes.
OSMOND: Of that caliber, yes.
KING: We'll be right back with Donny Osmond. When we come back, I'm going to ask him the downside of early fame. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): You came to show, I will never let you down. When you need me, I'll be around. You'll always be the only one for me. Heaven made you especially. Oh, baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): Thinking maybe if you said good-bye you'd understand the reason why the love you had felt so good. Oh, but it's all right, once you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you learn to find love again. So keep your heart open because love will find a way.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Donny Osmond has been re-booked in New York at B.B. King's nightclub, will appear there in May. Just wrapped up a concert tour through the Midwest and Northeast, Detroit to New York City. Has an upcoming concert tour. They're already selling out in the U.K.
What were the downsides of early fame, childhood recognition?
OSMOND: Well, the downsides, I think, come later on in life, like I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, is when you try to keep grasping at early success and not realizing you have to recreate yourself. It's got to be something totally different. You can't rest on the laurels of the past.
Plus, I will have to say, the downside is that you start believing -- especially when you're really successful -- you start believing the hype. And you start surrounding yourself with a lot of "yes" people and you create your own reality. It's happened to a lot of people in this business.
KING: Especially child stars.
OSMOND: Child stars. Thank goodness I had a great family growing up, a great foundation. But I will say my faith, my parents, my family, all that stuff is very, very important. And I'll say that until the day I die. But I think the most important ingredient to survive is self-determination, not to fall into that trap.
You're an island no matter what you do. I think it's very dangerous to use popularity as your identity in life. So you have to really know who you are inside, the core person, and follow what is true rather than follow what is hype.
And that's so hard, when you're involved in all of this excitement, this screaming, and everything like that. They're screaming for an image, you know. And then you go home, and you put your pants on just like anybody else. You eat your breakfast, just like anybody else. You're just like anybody else.
KING: You were, for a time, afraid of going onstage?
KING: When was that?
OSMOND: In the mid-'90s, when I was doing "Joseph." I suffered from panic attacks.
KING: So you wouldn't go on?
OSMOND: Oh, I went on. And I faked it. I was a pretty good actor. There were a couple nights where I called in sick because it's...
KING: What were you afraid of?
OSMOND: Well, unless you've suffered from panic attacks and social anxiety disorders, which is what I was diagnosed as having, it's hard to explain it. But you go on stage knowing you're actually physically going to die. You will keel over and die.
But I would go onstage anyway knowing in the background -- even though it sounds so unrealistic right now, 20 million Americans suffer from panic attacks. And I even put something on my Web site, an organization called ADAA, Anxiety Disorder Association of America, I believe, is what it stands for. But it's a real problem.
KING: Do you ever still have it?
OSMOND: No, I'm able to deal with it.
KING: How did you overcome it?
OSMOND: Therapy. Therapy. I was on drugs for a while. You know, and I'm not too proud to say that and to admit to it. But I was having a problem, and I was able to overcome. Every once in a while, you get those pangs of nervousness and anxiety. Everybody does it. Their knees start shaking.
KING: Marie had depression...
KING: ... well-written about. She discussed it on this show.
KING: Possible that it's genetic?
OSMOND: I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I have no idea.
KING: Does anyone else in the family have...
OSMOND: Oh, sure, yes. But it makes you wonder, is it show business? Is it the pressure of this business? Is it society that's doing this or is it genetic? I don't know. All I know is that I suffered severely from it.
KING: About that Web site, donny.com. You got 100 million hits?
OSMOND: Last year.
KING: 100 million hits.
OSMOND: It was over 100 million.
KING: What happens when I click in?
OSMOND: Well, I've actually been praised by a quite a few people of what kind of site it is and how informative and...
KING: What is it?
OSMOND: It presents my music. It presents my discography, my history. People write in about, "Hey, you're a Mormon. How many wives do you have?" You know? And I answer to the fact that I only have 17.
No, I have one wife. She's right here. She's right here in the studio.
KING: But you also give a lot of charitable works through donny.com?
OSMOND: Something has happened in the last couple of years. And I'm going to pursue it a little bit more. But there are a lot of people who suffer out there.
And so what we do is we recognize these people. And thousands and thousands of people all over the world, they come together and send these families the things that they need for the holidays at the end of the year.
KING: I don't follow you. In other words, someone sends in, "This family is in need"?
OSMOND: Yes, they say, "These are our needs. You know, we're suffering. My child would love to have" -- well, this one person couldn't get a wheelchair. All of these people got together. He has more wheelchairs than he knows what to do with.
KING: Now, how do they know to do it on donny.com where they're getting musical bibliography?
OSMOND: Well, there's all kinds of stuff. There's navigational tools there to take you all over the place. And it's just the community of people, literally millions of people all over the world, that have come together within this community.
And it's amazing what that Web site has done over the last -- well, we started in the early '80s. And 100 million. I couldn't believe it when I read the statistics.
KING: It must make you very proud, though?
OSMOND: Well, I don't know if "proud" is the word.
KING: To get that many people interested in clicking in and helping others?
OSMOND: Yes, you know what's funny about that, Larry, is that some people won't admit that they're clicking on Donny Osmond's site. Because to some generations, it's just not cool to like Donny Osmond.
Let's be honest. This happened two weeks ago, right? I was in Detroit. And my assistant was out in the lobby during intermission. So she witnessed this whole thing. And this big, burly guy came into the lobby and said to his wife, "I did not want to come to a Donny Osmond concert. I mean, I'm having the time of my life. I'm going to call my guys, my buddies down at the bar."
And so he gets on his cell phone and says, "You've got to see this show, man. It's intermission, come on down." She thought maybe one or two guys would show up from the bar down the streets. Sixteen guys show up trying to buy tickets to the -- and that's the biggest compliment I could have, because I've never had that kind of an audience. And I look out and see more and more guys come into my show, and it's kind of like strange in a way, you know?
KING: Tell me about an Osmond concert now. Do you have backup singers? What do I see?
OSMOND: This last tour, which is what I'm going to do for the remainder of this year...
KING: And England, too.
OSMOND: England's going to be a little different story, because the production is just going to be over the top, you know, the video and the whole thing. Because that's what it's going to be, big arenas, an arena show.
In this country, I had to start over again. And with this album, it's more about the music than production, than hype, than anything. So I figured, "If it's about the music, then make it musical."
There's only four musicians and myself. I sit at the piano through a lot -- some of the show. And like I told you earlier, in the second half, I come out just me at the piano and just play the oldies. But it's mainly about the new music. But it's for...
KING: You do a little comedy, too, or...
OSMOND: No, no, no, no.
OSMOND: This is not a vaudeville show. This is a musical show, strictly music. And it's working. People are actually listening to the music and walking out saying, "I had no idea. I had no idea."
KING: So you intend to go on and on with this, right?
OSMOND: I do.
KING: You are back now musically?
OSMOND: I am. I am. Peter Gabriel gave me some great advice in the '80s when I was really trying hard to change my image, with a leather jacket, and the torn jeans, and the unshaven look...
KING: You were on here.
OSMOND: Yes, yes. I was trying hard to...
KING: Hard rock Donny. OSMOND: ... "Come on, America, I'm a much different person." But he said, "You know what? Forget the image. Just make the music good and people will follow eventually." And he was right.
KING: Donny Osmond's the guest. The CD is "What I Meant to Say." Back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Because our love is like a secret emotion.
OSMOND (SINGING): Secret emotion.
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: And it's burning bright.
OSMOND: And it's burning bright.
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: For the whole world to see. The rhythm going into the motion...
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: ... coming back to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Donny Osmond.
What's this Edinborough (sic) thing?
OSMOND: Edinborough thing?
OSMOND: Oh, oh, that. During last summer's tour, I thought, "I've got to get this on tape," you know, because memories of the '70s is happening again with all the screaming and the adulation and everything. So I taped the Edinborough (sic) concert.
And it was so much fun, because right outside the castle -- the castle was my backdrop, and like 14,000 people or whatever it was. And we taped it, and eventually I'm going to air it here in the states. If I find the right position for it, I'm going to air it.
KING: What's it like to sing in front of a castle?
OSMOND: Well, I got to...
OSMOND: The first show, it was in the opening song, and the bass goes out. I thought, "Great. It's my first show, and the bass rig goes out." And I look back, and my bass player, Paul Peterson, he was just so embarrassed. After the show, I said, "What happened?" He said, "I couldn't believe -- I looked over and there was a castle. We were performing in front of a castle. And I forgot to play. It was just overwhelming."
KING: Friendship with Michael Jackson?
OSMOND: Still. Always will be, regardless.
KING: What do you make of all this?
OSMOND: I think it's very sad. I don't want to get into the details, because if it was a cut-and-dried case, it would be over with. But I hurt for him as a friend. I hurt for him as a musician. And I hurt for his family because there's personal vendettas against him, and they're going to drag him through the dirt big-time.
And I don't know how anybody can recover from it, but I pray for him. And like I said, I'll always be there for him as a friend.
KING: How good a person is he?
OSMOND: I think he's very -- this is interesting, because anybody you talk to that knows him personally always says he's the most kind-hearted, gentle person. Who knows what went on, you know? I'm not going to sit here and accuse him. I'm not in that position, nor will I ever.
We all make mistakes in life. Those are pretty serious mistakes. We all pay the consequences of decisions that we make in life. And if it did go on, he obviously needs to pay the consequences. But it behooves all of us to be forgiving if someone is eventually going to have to pay those penance.
KING: It's part of your faith, isn't it?
OSMOND: It is. As a member of the Mormon church, you know, yes, everybody has to pay the price. Ultimately, as a Christian, you understand Christ paid the price for humankind. But if we sin with knowledge, we do have to pay for that price.
KING: But you stand up for him?
OSMOND: I do. I always will.
KING: There's a Burt Bacharach tune in this new CD?
OSMOND: "You see this guy"...
KING: Now, what made you put that in, with all these original songs?
OSMOND: "This guy"...
KING: I love that song.
OSMOND: Such a cool song. And I thought I want to cover this song, but I want to do it in a way where there's confident -- what's a good word to say -- there's confident desperation. And that's the interpretation I gave to this song. Because the guy -- you see this guy. This guy's in love with her. He wants her so badly.
But the way I sang it was, "You see this guy" -- I know I'm going to get her -- "this guy's in love with" -- I'm singing this to you, Larry. This is not right.
KING: So you sing it as a cocky guy, where it could be seen as a desperate guy?
OSMOND: Cocky's the wrong word. Confident. Sing with confidence. The way I light it onstage, the way I approach it -- my bass players on an upright. You feel like you're in a smoky lounge, just in a bar. Just one of those things. "You see this guy." And it just goes over. And it's so much fun to sing.
KING: Because? Well, it's a great tune.
OSMOND: Oh, yes. Yes. And at the end, you can just cheat the note if you want. I go for it. I go for it.
KING: Now, TV Guide rated you among the Top 24 teen idols -- 25 teen idols of all time.
OSMOND: Wow, that's cool.
KING: In fact, I think you came in 14th.
OSMOND: Wow. That's a nice compliment.
KING: Isn't that nice? TV Guide, you're ranked, Donny, in the 25 greatest teen idols, number 14. David Cassidy was number one. Would you agree with that?
OSMOND: Wow. I'm not going to disagree. I would like to be in that position, though.
KING: Back to this fear, when you had that occurred, how did you even get on stage then? If you're afraid you're going to die going into that place, why go into that place?
OSMOND: Because I began feeling that at age 11.
KING: So you had it before?
OSMOND: It started to come with me because of the pressures of the business. The way I analyze it, I lost my career. And when I was 20, I was told I was a has-been and that you, you know, find another line of work. So I tried all through my 20s -- I never want to live my 20s again. And finally, success came back. And it was standing-room only for "Joseph." And I'm thinking this should fix it. Standing-room only, be happy. And the reason why it through me into that quandary was I was afraid to lose it again. So now I had to be perfect with every single performance.
KING: But you had to fake it then. Because I saw you during that period, and you gave no indications.
OSMOND: Well, there were times I was having the time of my life. This just happened sporadically.
KING: Oh, you can't predict it?
OSMOND: Can't predict it.
KING: Back with our remaining moments with Donny Osmond. The CD is "What I Meant to Say." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): I know inside that she's the angel of my soul. She's the answer to me prayers. I know I'd better keep her out of sight because they say that love is blind, so I'll just keep her in mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Donny Osmond. The new CD is "What I Meant to Say."
What do you hear about Dick Clark?
OSMOND: Not much.
KING: Haven't heard anything?
OSMOND: I haven't heard anything. And I wish I knew more, because I don't know. I don't want this to sound like a pessimistic comment, but no news is bad news to me.
KING: Because Dick would be public. I mean, let's be honest.
OSMOND: Oh, you know Dick Clark.
KING: Dick, he'd be on this show saying how he recovered from a stroke.
OSMOND: Absolutely. So I worry about my friend, because I know what strokes can do. My mom, as we mentioned, went through it. But I do know that he is speaking. I do know that he is walking.
KING: He is speaking, you know that?
OSMOND: I do know that. How well, I don't know. But I do know that he's walking and that he's surprising his doctors.
KING: Family tells you this?
OSMOND: His associates have told me this.
KING: You haven't spoken to him?
OSMOND: Not directly.
KING: Tried to go over to his house?
OSMOND: I've been on the road. I just barely got back, Larry. I think I'd rather go see my wife at this point, you know?
KING: Would you try to go over to his house at some...
OSMOND: I'm going to try to go. As a matter of fact, when I leave here, I'm going to try to call him, while I'm here in Los Angeles, because we...
KING: He's such a wonderful guy, you know.
OSMOND: He is. I remember doing the "Bandstand" show, doing the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it was climbing the charts. We were doing Dick Clark's show. I'm "man, I'm riding high. There's Dick Clark," you know?
KING: Yes. Before we -- we're going to have one more tune -- your number-one -- the only number-one song you ever had in the United States.
OSMOND: The only number-one song, as a solo artist, because "One Bad Apple" went number-one. And Donny and Marie, I think -- did we? I can't remember if we did or not. But you want it?
OSMOND (SINGING): Go away, little girl. Go away, little girl. I'm not supposed to be alone with you. I know that your lips are sweet, but our lips must never meet. I belong to somebody else, and I must be true.
Go away, little girl. Go away, little girl. It's hurting me more each minute that we delay. When you are near me like this, you're much too hard to resist. So go away, little girl, before I beg you to stay.
KING: That was a great song.
KING: You didn't do it that slow, though, right? Wasn't it a little bit more up-tempo?
OSMOND: The original? Oh, yeah. "Go away, little girl." That's the way I do it in concert. KING: So Donny, what's your goals now?
OSMOND: My goal right now is primarily this album. I want people to hear this album. That's why I'm talking to you. That's why I'm talking to America. That's why I'm talking to the world. I want people to hear where I am today.
I'm proud of my past. I used to hate "Puppy Love." I used to hate them. But I've embraced it. I've embraced the whole 42 years of show business, and I'm having a lot of fun singing my music that I created now, the stuff that I wrote, that I penned.
KING: What's it like for you when you see clips of early Osmond shows, television shows, and Andy Williams and stuff?
OSMOND: It's another person. I love it. You know, as a matter of fact, there's going to be more TVs in the England tour showing those highlights of my life, you know, chronologically and whatnot.
But I look back and I think to myself, "How did I do that at that young of an age? How did my parents teach me that?" I look at my seven-year-old right now thinking...
KING: You were truly amazing.
OSMOND: I was traveling the world at seven years old, dance routings, instruments, saxophone, everything.
KING: What did the Osmonds do that made them so special? And they were once described as the '70s. The Osmonds were the '70s.
OSMOND: That's a nice compliment. I would like to think that talent had a lot to do with it.
KING: Oh, sure. But there was something else.
OSMOND: I do think we were in the right place at the right time. I think timing -- the Baby Boomer timing was right. So we were very, very fortunate in that sense. And it's nice to be able to have that kind of history because this full-circle thing we're talking about, part of it's nostalgic, part of it is today. And I'll always be grateful to be able to have that kind of career and that legacy behind me. But, yes, we were in the right place at the right time, with the right songs.
KING: Along the way, have you ever doubted your faith?
OSMOND: I've never doubted my faith.
KING: Even in the deepest days?
OSMOND: When I was 16 years old, I doubted myself. I said, "Man, you're a hypocrite. You are such a hypocrite. You say you're a Mormon, and you believe it, and you've never even really studied it." So when I was 16, I decided to study it. And I will always abide by it, because I have a true conviction that it is the right thing for me.
KING: So even during panic attack stages, you never said, "There is no God"...
KING: ... or "God has left me"?
OSMOND: No, I never went through that.
KING: That would have been kind of normal.
OSMOND: It would have been normal, but I have had so many wonderful experiences in my life. And I don't want to look like an overzealous zealot, you know, religious zealot, but I have had some wonderful experiences in my life. And I know there is a God. I know it.
KING: Why do you live in Provo? I mean, it's a nice town. I have a little house there. I visit there.
OSMOND: Larry -- just so you know, Larry's my neighbor.
KING: I know, that's right. Down the block.
OSMOND: I offered some chocolates one Christmas and he says, "I don't eat chocolate."
KING: Why do you...
OSMOND: So I gave him a bagel.
KING: Why do you live there? Bagels in Provo, they go around, "What? What is this?"
OSMOND: "These hard doughnuts, you know? Weird."
KING: "What are they?" Why do you live there?
OSMOND: I think it's a wonderful place to raise a family. It's a great atmosphere. I love the mountains. I lived in Chicago for a while. I loved it there. I lived in Toronto.
But my wife and I decided we want the mountains, and we love it in Utah. We're close to -- my dad lives a block from me. My wife's parents live two or three minutes from us. It's just a great...
KING: Because they're wonderful people.
OSMOND: It's a nice recluse for me. It's a nice getaway, because, you know, when you're in the city, and you get bombarded and all this kind of stuff -- and I'm here all the time in L.A., New York, Chicago -- it's just a nice...
KING: Good to go home?
OSMOND: It's good to go home.
KING: Good to have you home in here.
OSMOND: Oh, well, thank you, Larry. Nice to see you.
KING: Donny Osmond, the CD is "What I Meant to Say."
I'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSMOND (SINGING): How can I, how can I tell them this is not puppy love?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, an hour with the wonderful Donny Osmond who's back big time. Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. Good night.
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