Long before Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera made their respective marks in the world of music as former members of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club, Annette Funicello, who incidentally was the only ‘Mouseketeer’ picked personally by Walt Disney, was also in the hearts of the American public, but she held a special place in the heart of one singer/songwriter namely Paul Anka, a teen idol, who wrote a song especially for her.
Paul’s inspiration for his early songs came from his real love-life experiences beginning with his sister’s babysitter, Diana in 1957. Annette was the inspiration for a previous Anka hit called Put Your Head On My Shoulder which, like Puppy Love, reached number two in the States. Paul returned the favour of her being the subject of the hits by writing a couple of songs for Annette. Train of Love made the US top 40 whilst the follow up, Talk To Me Baby, only just made the top 100.
Paul went on tour but his manager advised him to keep his affair with Annette under wraps as it wouldn’t look good for a teen idol to have a girlfriend and therefore keep it out of the press. After the tour the couple split but she did record an album called Annette Sings Anka and a few years later married Anka’s manager Jack Gilardi.
George and Olive Osmond were devoted Mormons based in Ogden, Utah. Their first two children, Viri and Tommy, had hearing difficulties, but from then, it was music all the way: Four of their other children, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay formed a harmony quartet in 1960 and, following a trip to Disneyland, they appeared on one of their TV specials. As a result, they became a regular part of The Andy Williams Show from 1962 to 1967 with Donny joining them when he was six. The Osmonds then spent two years on The Jerry Lewis Show. “Our father was an army sergeant and so we got our discipline from him,” says Jimmy, the youngest member today, “We were always having to learn something new like ice-skating, playing banjos, pianos or dancing.”
The teen appeal of the song carried on when Donny, opened his concurrent solo career with a heartfelt cover version. Anka’s version only made number 33 in the UK, so it was relatively unknown here. What sold the record was Donny’s supercharged emotion on ‘Someone help me, help me, help me please.’ “Mike Curb told me to give it my all on Puppy Love,” says Donny, “so I suppose it worked. Paul Anka said he would write me some new songs and I’m still waiting.”
In 1972 a radio station KOB (now KKOB), Albuquerque, played a version that featured a background bed recorded at the dog pound.
Anka made a comeback in 2005 with an album called Rock Swings (his first chart album in the UK) which contained swings versions of rock classics like Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Van Halen’s Jump, the Cure’s Lovecats and REM’s Everybody Hurts. In 1992, Annette announced that she had Multiple Sclerosis and in March 2011, her home in California caught fire. She suffered smoke inhalation, but was otherwise unharmed. Donny is still touring the world with his sister Marie to sell-out venues.