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One Bad Apple


The Osmonds

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by George Jackson, who was a staff songwriter at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The Osmonds were a young family group from Ogden, Utah, and made a name for themselves performing at Disneyland and on The Andy Williams Show. When they signed with MGM records in 1970, the label sent them to FAME in an effort to duplicate the success of The Jackson 5. George Jackson had written this song with The Jackson 5 in mind, and with production by FAME owner Rick Hall and vocals by 13-year-old Donny Osmond, this sounded very much like a Jackson 5 record, and was a huge success, spending 5 weeks at #1 in the US.

Rodney Hall, who took over operations at FAME from his dad, told us how Rick discovered The Osmonds: "My dad heard them in Vegas. Mike Curb flew him out there to see them and said, 'I'm not going to tell you who it is, because you won't go if I tell you who it is,' because they'd done The Andy Williams Show, but they hadn't had a hit or a big record. So he flew out there and he dug 'em and decided to cut them like the Jackson 5. He told George to write them a Jackson 5 song and that was it. I've heard the rumor that Barry Gordy sent my dad a Western-Union that said, 'Stop stealing my f--king music.'"
In this song, The Osmonds are singing to a girl, trying to convince her that one bad experience shouldn't dictate her behavior, and that he deserves a chance because he's not like the guy who hurt her. It's a similar sentiment to "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5.
Most people think of Muscle Shoals, Alabama as a place for Soul music, since Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett and many other Soul legends recorded there. Many white acts recorded there as well - Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cher - and they don't get much whiter than The Osmonds. When the group came to town, it caused a particular stir in the young girl population of Muscle Shoals. Rodney Hall told us: "All the 12-year-old girls weren’t crazy over Clarence Carter, but they were crazy over The Osmonds, and they’d come and hang out. One time my two brothers and Donny got on their bikes and they went around the block. By the time they got back around the block there were girls chasing them down the street. We had to have a 10 foot tall double boarder all the way around the fence, because the girls would come up and look through the peepholes in the backyard. It was pretty crazy."
The Osmonds enjoyed tremendous success for the rest of the '70s and reinvented themselves as Country artists in the '80s. Donny hosted a variety show from 1976-1979 with his sister called Donny & Marie. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
There was only one other US #1 hit with a fruit in the title, and it was also an apple: the instrumental "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" by Perez Prado hit the top spot in 1955.
The Osmonds
More The Osmonds songs
More songs that were an artist's first hit
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Comments (5):

This song was written by George Jackson for the Jackson Five who gave it a pass. Merrill Osmond's soulful voice is what you hear as the lead and Donny is singing the refrain. Donny was not the lead singer of the Osmonds or of this song. Merrill was the lead singer. He had a perfectly beautiful soulful voice and deserved more credit for his singing ability than what was given. I was a kid who followed their career and I never understood why Donny became more popular than his brother Merrill for anything other than his youth and cuteness.
- Dannie, Los Angeles, CA
This song is a very thinly veiled reference to fanny fornication. Some ne'er-do-well obviously gave the young lady a 'dry ride' and did not properly lube her black cherry before sticking in his meat thermometer. "Oh, Give it one more try....", is Donny and the boys plea but(t)," can I when you won't give me the chance". I don't know how you could draw any other conclusion.
- Mike, Matawan, NJ
Doesn't anybody realize that Satan is trying to sneak his message to impressionable young minds with this song. He's trying to tempt everyone to eat off that tree all over again by saying that one bad apple is no danger. You'll definitely be seeing Adam and Steve or Madam and Eve after hearing this song. LOL
- MusicMama, new york, NY
actually its merril doing the main lead,,this song was the beginning of donny being the teen idol,,,sweet and innocent was donnys first solo hit..
- ron, burtchville, MI
I was to understand that originally one of the other Osmond brothers was concidered the lead vocal ( Alan I believe ), but Donny got the credit for being the lead vocal on this song even though he pretty much sang as a back up on it.
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