1972 The Osmonds – Crazy Horses
The Osmond Brothers (Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay) sang together as a barbershop quartet in 1958. When they were visiting Disneyland, they started singing with one of Disney’s entertainment groups (the Dapper Dans). Tommy Walker, Disneyland’s Director of Entertainment and Customer Relations, heard them singing and was impressed enough to hire the boys to sing on an episode of Disneyland After Dark. That resulted in Andy Williams bringing the group onto his television show as regular guests from 1962 to 1969. The group released a series of albums and singles through that period, although none of their records charted.
Eventually, Donnie joined the group, after which they became simply The Osmonds. In 1970, Mike Curb helped the group sign with MGM Records and began producing bubblegum records that featured Donnie singing lead. The first single from that combination was One Bad Apple, which reached the top of the Hot 100. Four more top twenty singles followed in the next two years.
Donny had begun releasing solo records in 1971 and was turning into bona fide teen idol. The Osmonds were playing their own instruments and writing their own songs, including Crazy Horses. When the Osmonds recorded the song, Donny’s voice was changing because of puberty, so he did not provide any vocals for the single. The lead vocals were by Jay, the only time he sang lead on a hit single by the group. One short passage of the lyrics was slightly higher notes, and Merrill provided the vocals for that portion of the song. Their single peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 in 1972 and reached #2 on the UK chart.
The song was not welcome everywhere. South Africa banned the song because somebody assumed horses was a code word for heroin. France banned the song because self-important authorities just knew that “smoking up the sky” was about drugs. They were all wrong.
According to Jay, the “crazy horses, smoking up the sky,” were gas-guzzling cars that poured out pollution and were destroying the planet with their fumes. It seems that the Osmonds were already worried about ecology and the environment of the planet back in the seventies. Who knew?
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