"Crazy Horses"
Single by The Osmonds
from the album Crazy Horses
B-side"That's My Girl"
ReleasedOctober 14, 1972
RecordedJune 23, 1972
The Osmonds singles chronology
"Hold Her Tight"
"Crazy Horses"
"Goin' Home"

"Crazy Horses" is a 1972 hit single by The Osmonds, the title track from the album of the same name. The song, the only hit record from the Osmonds to feature Jay Osmond as lead vocalist, reached number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100[1] and number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] The song has since been covered by numerous other performers.

Recording and content

Singer Merrill Osmond said of the song, "Before that, my brothers and I had been what's now called a boy band: all our songs were chosen for us by the record company. But now, having been successful, we wanted to freak out and make our own music. We were rehearsing in a basement one day when Wayne started playing this heavy rock riff. I came up with a melody and Alan got the chords. Within an hour, we had the song. I had always been the lead singer, but I sang Crazy Horses with Jay. The line "What a show, there they go, smoking up the sky" had to be sung higher, so I did that and Jay did the verses because his voice was growlier, and this track was heavier than anything we’d ever done." Merrill Osmond also added that the record company initially was skeptical the song would be successful but relented when it performed well in the charts (particularly in the United Kingdom, where the song proved to be a breakthrough for the quintet, as well as much of the rest of Europe).[3]

Jay Osmond said:[3]

The song was recorded at MGM in Hollywood and we added that distinctive "Wah! Wah!" intro sound afterwards. Alan had written the lyrics, which talked about horsepower, and he said: "It's got to sound like a horse somehow". We tried everything, then finally found something on Donny's organ that sounded like a neighing stallion.

Concerning the opening part of the song, Donny said:[4]

It wasn't [a] theremin, it was a Y[C]-30 Yamaha organ with a portamento slide. We had a wall of Marshalls in the studio. It was so loud that you couldn't even walk in the studio, so we had to play the organ from the control room. My brother Alan actually played it on the record. I played it live. But the secret to it was a wah-wah pedal. We opened the wah-wah just enough to get that really harsh kind of a piercing sound, but it was the loudness of the Marshalls that got us that sound. And then we doubled it. That was the secret to that sound.

Donny, the usual co-lead, had no vocal parts because his voice was changing, due to puberty. The record was co-produced by Alan Osmond and Michael Lloyd, who had previously been in the psychedelic rock group The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.

Jay Osmond said, "'Crazy Horses' was way ahead of its time. It's a song about ecology and the environment: those 'crazy horses, smoking up the sky' are gas-guzzling cars, destroying the planet with their fumes. We shot the record sleeve in a junkyard, surrounded by big old cars."[3][5]

During some of the live performances, as Jay stepped out front to sing lead, Merrill played the drums while Alan played bass guitar.


Sales of the song were prohibited in South Africa, where government censors interpreted the word 'horses' as referring to heroin.[6][7][8]

The song was also banned in France when authorities believed the lyric "smoking up the sky" was about drugs.[3]


According to Donny, Ozzy Osbourne once told him that "Crazy Horses" was "one of his favorite rock and roll songs."[9]

Cover versions

It has been covered by numerous other artists including The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Mission, Tank, Lawnmower Deth, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, The Frames, KMFDM, Electric Six, Pretty Maids, Tigertailz, and Butcher Babies. Westlife covered the song live in 2003, and even performed the song alongside Donny Osmond. English band Pop Will Eat Itself sampled the record on their 1988 single "Def Con One". The song was also covered by Tigertailz on the 2010 live album Bezerk: Live...Burnin' Fuel. The song was also covered by Mat Sinner on the solo album Back to the Bullet 1990. Donny Osmond recorded a new version of the song as a hidden bonus track on his 2002 covers album Somewhere in Time[10] and performs the song frequently on his tours. He did not sing on the original record.

In 1995, the electronic music group Utah Saints released a remixed version of the song, which reached number 50 in the UK singles chart. This version was reissued in 1999 and peaked at number 34.

Revolution 409 (which in reality was American band Redd Kross) covered the song on the SST Records 1989 compilation The Melting Pot.

Pere Ubu will cover the song on their forthcoming album Trouble on Big Beat Street.[11]

The Dictators released a cover version in 2023. [12]

Chart performance

Chart (1972/1973) Peak
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[13] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[14] 12
Dutch Top 40 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 1
France (IFOP)[16] 1
Irish Singles Chart[17] 17
Swiss Singles Chart[18] 5
UK Singles Chart[2] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 14


  1. ^ a b "The Osmonds > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - The Osmonds - Crazy Horses". Official Charts. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Simpson, Dave (2017-01-23). "The Osmonds: how we made Crazy Horses". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  4. ^ Prato, Greg (2021-09-23). "Donny Osmond: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  5. ^ "Crazy Horses by The Osmonds Songfacts". Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  6. ^ DeYoung, Bill (2004-01-16). "After 47 years, Osmonds still squeaky-clean". DeseretNews.com. Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  7. ^ Jon, Kutner; Leigh, Spencer (2010). 1,000 UK Number One Hits. London: Music Sales. p. 324. ISBN 9780857123602. OCLC 978493833.
  8. ^ "Big Hits: TOTP 1964 to 1975". Top of the Pops. 2011-04-01. 69 minutes in. BBC. BBC Four. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  9. ^ Prato, Greg (2021-09-23). "Donny Osmond: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  10. ^ "Donny Osmond". Ink19.com. Retrieved 13 December 2002.
  11. ^ "Pere Ubu Trouble on Big Beat Street".
  12. ^ "Legendary Punk Band The Dictators Debut New Video for "Crazy Horses"".
  13. ^ The Osmonds, "Crazy Horses" Belgian Chart Position Retrieved February 21, 2015
  14. ^ "RPM Volume 18 No. 16, December 02 1972". Archived from the original on 1 September 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  15. ^ "The Osmonds – Crazy Horses" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  16. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres N° 1 des 70's". Archived from the original on 2014-03-30. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  17. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  18. ^ "The Osmonds - Crazy Horses - hitparade.ch" (in German). Retrieved 13 August 2009.