This was written by George Jackson, 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 five 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
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.
Donny Osmond recalled to Uncut the "One Bad Apple" recording sessions with Rick Hall.
"We always ordered McDonald's for lunch at Fame. Rick loved the fish fillet sandwich, but he hated the secret sauce they always put on it. While they were out getting the order, we recorded the track. It was a little long, so Rick cut out this section of the song and just threw the cake in the garbage.
It turned out he cut the wrong section out of the song! We got it out, laid it out on the floor and spent forever wiping all this secret sauce off. But he spliced it back in, we did our vocals and finished everything up. I imagine that if we ever found the master, it would be completely destroyed. But that's what we used: 'One Bad Apple' with secret sauce. That must be the reason it went to #1."