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Osmond recalls friendship with Jackson

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 3:52 a.m. MDT

Jimmy Osmond () Jimmy Osmond ()

As they rose through the various stages of stardom in the '70s, the Osmonds and the Jacksons were often seen as competitors. But Provo native Jimmy Osmond says the two families were "always friendly."

"It's a huge loss for every one of us," he said regarding the Thursday death of Michael Jackson.

Osmond said his only regret is not keeping in contact with Jackson after the 2005 court trial in which Jackson was acquitted of various sex abuse allegations. "But I relish the days I did have an association with him."

After their first introduction at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the two families of singers — which showcased much the same dynamic then — vied for the hearts of music lovers everywhere. Osmond said "One Bad Apple," one of the greatest hits of his brother, Donny Osmond, was actually a tune that the Jackson family passed on. But Donny still grew to be good friends with Michael Jackson, sharing a stage with him at the fist American Music Awards created by Dick Clark in 1973.

Over the years, Jimmy Osmond, now 46, said his family kept in touch with Jackson, who occasionally offered them professional advice, but always respected them and their own track to fame.

"Michael reached a whole different level of celebrity," Jimmy Osmond said. "He did things that were so revolutionary and so on the edge. We've never gone there."

The youngest Osmond brother recalls playing soccer with the Jackson Five "in the halls of a hotel, while 5,000 girls were outside screaming in hysteria." He remembers going swimming at the Jackson home in California decades ago, and remembers the King of Pop as having a "huge heart."

"The entertainment business can be such a phony, fake business, but as a human being, he was wonderful," he said.

Jackson later accepted one of Osmond's brokering deals when his album "Bad" was released overseas in 1987. The move bolstered the relatively young broker's career, giving him even more opportunity than he believes he would have had without working with such a popular man or event.

"Because he took a shot with me in the past, and took a couple of my deals, he really blessed my personal life," Osmond said. "He opened up a whole world of credibility for me, not only being a performer but brokering other high-end deals for performers."

Osmond said he would often defend his showbiz friend when others would criticize various actions or habits lit up by the media. He always believed Jackson was "severely misunderstood."

"He is a good person," he said. "He was in a weird business where sometimes you've got to create something unique to get attention for a specific project. Michael was just who he was. He was a media magnet, and he knew how to do things that were fun for him but yet were so out of the ordinary that he created such a stir. But he had the talent to back it up."

Osmond, who just finished a long run of theatrical performances in England, said Jackson's career epitomized the "perfect combination" of being media-savvy, talented and having the ability to move and also to see a trend and go with it.

"He just had it all."

E-MAIL: wleonard@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company