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December 22

A Hit Way Back in 1973, “Paper Roses” by Marie Osmond

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A Hit Way Back in 1973, “Paper Roses” by Marie Osmond 1

The Story of Marie Osmond

It seemed that way back in 1973, the last thing that the music world needed was another Osmond. Utah’s five-member group The Osmonds made their national debut on “The Andy Williams Show”. They had progressed to making pop records that built a substantial following of teenage girls. Outside the group setting, Donny Osmond became a solo star. Even Little Jimmy made a couple of records.

MGM executive Mike Curb thought it might be wise to go to the well one more time and asked the Osmonds’ mother Olive if thirteen-year-old Marie could sing. Olive responded in the affirmative. However, she added that Marie tended toward country music. That made perfect marketing sense to Curb. They knew that he would have a tough time selling another Osmond in the pop market. The next task was to find a producer to create country songs. A friend of Curb’s suggested Sonny James. Not only was Sonny sensitive about lyrics, it just so happened that he had some free time off the road.

James wanted to hear a tape before he committed to producing Osmond, and received a two-song demo that included her recording of Dolly Parton’s “Coat Of Many Colors.” Sonny recalls:

“Marie sounded good. She was a child, you could tell, but I’d hear, every once in a while, this ‘cutting’ sound. It wasn’t consistent, but now and then this ‘cutting’ sound would come through. That’s what I considered to be the real ear-catcher”.

James signed on to the project and MGM flew Marie to Nashville to cut the album at Jack Clement’s studio. She sang all the tracks live with the musicians. Strings were overdubbed later. Sonny personally selected “Paper Roses” as the first single. He officially added the Osmond name to country playlists, and in a quite spectacular fashion. The record sailed to the No. 1 plateau on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart on November 10, 1973, exactly four weeks after Marie’s fourteenth birthday. It also brought her into the same pop territory as her brothers, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, the same position as Anita Bryant’s original 1960 version of the song.


Tags

Marie Osmond, paper roses, songwriters, sonny james


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