Donny Osmond was one of the biggest stars of the '70s, with a string of hit songs and a popular variety show
he hosted with his sister Marie. But in the late '80s, he was about as cool as your parents.
Improbably, he made a huge comeback in the summer of 1989 when "Soldier Of Love" took off in America, climbing to #2.
Osmond had a deal with the UK label Virgin Records, which released his self-titled album there in 1988, with "Soldier Of Love" the lead single. The single stalled at #29, and Virgin dropped him. He suffered further humiliation at the hands of the British press, which ridiculed him - on one talk show appearance the host told him his George Michael look (ripped jeans, leather jacket), wasn't working for him.
His comeback seemed moribund, but Osmond still had a cadre of fans who stayed connected, and one from the UK sent a copy of "Soldier Of Love" on cassette to a fan in New Jersey, who sent it to the influential New York City radio station WPLJ without identifying the artist. Somehow, this unsolicited, unmarked tape found its way to Jessica Ettinger, who had just taken over as program director at the station. Her keen ear detected a hit, and by calling the number on the cassette she found out from the sender it was Donny Osmond.
Ettinger, in a gush of promotional genius, put the song on the air as a "mystery artist" and had listeners call in to guess who it was. The phones lit up - many guessed George Michael or Boy George - and the song stayed in rotation. When it was revealed as a Donny Osmond song, American labels rushed to sign him. He went with Capitol, which quickly released the single and rushed it to radio stations around the country, many of which added songs in lockstep with WPLJ. Donny Osmond was back!