Back in the early 1970s, Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson were fronting two of the music business’s top pop acts, The Osmonds and The Jackson 5, respectively. They were also 13 years old.
Speaking with Page Six, Osmond opened up about how the two youngsters formed a friendship that endured for decades.
As Osmond recalled, he first met Jackson in 1971 when their bands shared a bill at a Toronto show in 1971.
READ MORE: Donny Osmond Says ‘It Was Horrible’ Dealing With Anxiety On Stage
“I remember seeing Michael peeking out the side of the curtain watching me during the show,” Osmond said. “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 reminisced about that day, remembering the two playing backstage like typical kids before taking to the stage to perform. “It’s really difficult talking about… these two little teenagers who are just selling amazing amounts of records and having No. 1 records and very powerful recording artists, and all they want to do is just be kids,” he explained.
According to Osmond, the two stayed in touch over the years, and got together whenever they could. On one of those occasions, they donned trench coats, wigs and sunglasses to go incognito to go to the movies. “We were just trying to be normal,” Osmond said, but admitted their disguises didn’t fool anyone.
READ MORE: Donny Osmond Makes Drew Barrymore Emotional, Gushes About How His Wife ‘Saved’ Him From Dark Years
When both singers eventually became solo acts, by the 1980s their career trajectories went in very different directions. While Jackson topped the charts with multiple singles from his mega-hit Thriller album, Osmond’s career had stalled. “I couldn’t get a record deal. I couldn’t get arrested,” he remembered.
Seeking advice on how to resurrect his career, Jackson became blunt. “‘Well, you got to change your name. Your name is poison!’” Osmond recalled Jackson telling him. And while he initially balked at the suggestion, he ultimately came to realize Jackson was right on the money.
“But what’s interesting is that he told me that in ’83, and it wasn’t until 1989, that [Osmond’s track] ‘Soldier of Love’ became a hit without my name. So Michael was right.”
READ MORE: Donny Osmond Can Relate To Justin Bieber’s ‘Lonely’
As Osmond explained, radio DJ’s wouldn’t play anything from Donny Osmond, but when the song was initially released with no mention of who was singing it, “Soldier of Love” got significant airplay; it wasn’t until the song had become a hit that Osmond revealed it was his song.
“The greatest thing that ever happened to me was I lost my career,” Osmond said. “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.”
According to Osmond, the two last spoke about a year before Jackson’s death in 2009. “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.’ 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,'” Osmond recalled. “And he said, ‘I really need that right now.’ But he never took me up on it.”