When Little Jimmy Osmond got the Christmas number one

8 December 2023, 12:10

The Osmonds - A New Musical tour trailer

By Mayer Nissim

A year before Slade and Wizzard went head-to-head, Little Jimmy Osmond nabbed the seasonal top spot.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Since the very first year of the charts, there's always been a Christmas Number 1.

But for a long time that song just happened to be what was the toppermost of the poppermost that particular week.

Sure, there were the occasional Christmassy songs, like Harry Belafonte's 'Mary's Boy Child' or Dickie Valentine's 'Christmas Alphabet', but most were your standard hits by the likes of The Beatles, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley, among others.

It was 1973 when there was a real shift as Slade and Wizzard went head to head for the Christmas No. 1 slot, with 'Merry Xmas Everybody' pipping 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', sparking the then-annual ritual battle for the top spot.

But one year earlier, it was a very different song that surprisingly worked its way to the top of the tree: Little Jimmy Osmond's 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool'.

Long Haired Lover From Liverpool

'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' was written by Christopher Kingsley, and was actually first recorded by the writer himself.

Kingsley released his version in the summer of 1969 and the song was a total flop, though it did get some radio play on the KMPC station in his local Los Angeles.

So how did An Actual Osmond release the song three years later and end up with a massive and record-breaking UK hit with it?

Jimmy Osmond in concert
Jimmy Osmond in concert. Picture: Getty Images

Well, the company distributing Kingsley's flop original was MGM, which happened to be The Osmonds' record label of the time.

Jimmy's mum Olive heard the song, and suggested to MGM boss and producer Mike Curb that her youngest singing child record it as his debut solo single.

The timing was perfect, as the UK in particular was very much into all things Osmond at the time, with the band – including Jimmy – over here on tour.

Christoper Kingsley-Long Haired Lover From Liverpool - (45)

'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' was released in the US as early as March 1972, and it got to a more-than-respectable number 38 in the charts.

After some label issues were ironed out, a UK release followed.

It entered the charts over here at number 49 at the end of November, rising fast, and within five weeks it finally reached the top spot, just in time for Christmas.

Little Jimmy Osmond
Little Jimmy Osmond. Picture: Getty Images

'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' knocked Chuck Berry's cover of ribald novelty song 'My Ding-a-Ling' into second place, and it went on to spend five full weeks at the top.

We mentioned the UK was in the throes of Osmondmania at the time, and as if to underline their Osmondy grip on the country, when Little Jimmy was on top of the Christmas tree, The Osmonds collectively were at number five with 'Crazy Horses' and Donny Osmond was at number nine with 'Why'.

The song was credited to Little Jimmy Osmond, and it was a fair nickname. At just nine years and eight months old, Jimmy became the youngest-ever performer to score a number one single.

Jimmy Osmond - Long Haired Lover From Liverpool [totp2]

But why was a medium-length-haired, California-born and Utah-based Osmond who was not yet in double figures singing about being a "long-haired lover from Liverpool", anyway?

Well, we've already noted that Jimmy didn't write the song, but even original writer and artist Christopher Kingsley (credited as Christopher Dowden in the UK for some reason) wasn't exactly a Scouser who spent his Saturday afternoons on the Kop.

But when he released the song in 1969, there were a bunch of long-ish-haired chaps who actually were from Liverpool who, while coming to their end, still very much had the pop world in the palm of their hands.

Long Haired Lover From Liverpool - Jimmy Osmond

And quizzed in later years on where 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' had come from, Jimmy Osmond was quoted in 1,000 UK Number One Hits as saying "I don't know, but we can put it back?"

He added: "Mike Curb suggested the song, and a song about The Beatles made sense. Paul McCartney brought his daughter to meet us and wanted our autographs."

So that's how a pre-teen Utahn ended up singing "I'll be your long haired lover from Liverpool, you'll be my sunshine daisy from LA".

Last Played Songs