It’s The 5th Dimension as The Versatiles!
Dateline June 26–We’re honoring the birthday of Billy Davis, Jr. with a rare landmark recording, as featured in this YouTube for FOREVER 5th DIMENSION. According to group founder LaMonte McLemore, “Everyone thinks we started in ’67 because of ‘Up-Up and Away,’ but I formed the group in late ’65.” LaMonte, Billy, along with Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, and Ron Townson were known as The Versatiles then, before manager Marc Gordon convinced them to go find a hipper moniker. This tune, “You’re Good Enough for Me” was the A-side of The Versatile’s only single on Bronco Records (produced and co-written in ’65 by Gordon). And it’s notable that the quintet had initial interest in recording for Motown, for surely this production had that company’s flavor. McLemore adds, “It’s good we didn’t go with Motown and that Marc got us connected with Johnny Rivers’s Soul City Records and the music of Jimmy Webb…our eventual sound wound up un-matched!” True, yet this single side is quite unique, too, as it brings us the roots of The 5th Dimension and one of Mr. Billy Davis, Jr.’s earliest leads.
For his birthday, the fans at FOREVER 5th DIMENSION have been celebrating Billy’s many memorable solos with “The 5th”: The still-timely tour-de-force, “A Change is Gonna Come,” the sweet-Soul of “Summer’s Daughter” and “Misty Roses,” the inspirational “Leave A Little Room,” and the raucous romp of recovery in “Feelin’ Alright.” Along with the passion of “Requiem: 820 Latham,” “Let It Be Me,” and “The Worst that Could Happen,” Billy Davis Jr’s musical exploits bring out equally-impassioned sentiments from fans old and new. It’s no wonder luminaries like the aforementioned Webb, the late Maurice White and Gerald Levert of Earth, Wind & Fire and The O’Jay’s, respectively, and former band-mates McLemore and LaRue have labeled him one of our greatest Soul singers. Most certainly, his wife of soon-to-be 47 years, the ever-lovely Ms. McCoo warmly and pridefully concurs.
Gentleman of Soul
As The Original 5th Dimension’s biographer, I dub Billy Davis, Jr. our Gentleman of Soul. As we wish him a blessed birthday with this early gem, it’s remarkable that this may not have exactly foreshadowed the perfect jewels to come, but was a charming start, one The 5th eventually would have fun “spoofing” in concert and on TV (The Flip Wilson Show). Today, on the occasion of Mr. Davis’s birthday, we can look back on “You’re Good Enough for Me” with a smile, a finger-snap and a strut in our step. —Robert-Allan Arno
Special thanks to Paul Corley–this rare single is from his exclusive collection.
More thanks to the special fans, and to the stars: Billy, Marilyn, Florence and LaMonte. Also to Sterling Winters.
Photos: The Arno 5th Legacy Collection, DeniseRose Torres and Getty Images
LaMonte McLemore’s hit memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” is available at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692307362
Visit Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. at http://www.mccoodavis.com
Visit Florence LaRue and The 5th Dimension, today at: http://the5thdimensionlive.com/
Robert-Allan Arno is at: http://www.about.me/robertallanarno
Billy, Robert, Marilyn, June 2016
(FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, copyright 2016, The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., intellectual property, all rights reserved)