Monthly Archives: February 2014

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LaMonte “Mac” McLemore’s Memoir Promises Stars Galore, Rare Photos & Life Wisdom…

Mac's Memoir Promises Stars, Photos, Music History, Wisdom...

LaMonte McLemore of The 5th Dimension tells the story! 

Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, Ray Charles, Ava Gardner, Don Cornelius, Dick Clark, Jimmy Webb, Johnny Mathis, Richard Pryor, Billy Davis, Jr., Sammy Davis, Jr., Ron “Sweets” Townson, Redd Foxx, Johnny Carson, Jayne Kennedy, Marvin Gaye, Glen Campbell, Mike Douglas, Gladys Knight…just SOME of the stars featured in “Mac’s” upcoming autobiographical memoir, FROM HOBO FLATS to THE 5th DIMENSION: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Music & Photography by LaMonte McLemore with Robert-Allan Arno. Lots of RARE photos, history & wisdom, too! Stay tuned for news of its Christmas season ’14 release! LaMonte thanks each of you for your kind support and enthusiasm…me too, friends! –Robert-Allan Arno

View the Official Press Release athttps://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/lamonte-mclemore-of-the-5th-dimension-to-release-autobiographical-memoir-as-told-to-robert-allan-arno/?relatedposts_exclude=264

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A Valentine’s Love Song to Marilyn & Billy

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Hi Friends,

Dateline February 14th–Have You Tried Love?!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  FOREVER 5th DIMENSION presents this recent tribute to Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.’s 44th Wedding Anniversary featuring an homage to their “greatest hits” from the fans.  We released this, this past July while we were “in between” Blog locations, today is the perfect “sweetheart’s day” to re-issue our l’il treatise!  Enjoy!

Love Song to Marilyn & Billy–Celebrating the Duo’s 44th Anniversary

A FOREVER 5th DIMENSION EXCLUSIVE 

by Robert-Allan Arno & the Fans 

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. will be celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary on Friday, July 26th!  As a musical toast to our favorite Grammy-winning, “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” duo, let’s specifically “have a party” for their duet recordings, as I share a few special memories from the many times I’ve interviewed “MarBill”…with some of our ongoing “fan confabbing” sprinkled in, too!  Our singing sweethearts have brought us so much love…it’s the perfect season to croon them our own collective love song!

Marilyn always savored her recording sessions, they were “top priority” she noted, also revealing, “Billy is an incredible coach when it comes to phrasing and reminding, as he says, ‘What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.'” Billy returned the compliment, “I marvel when listening to Marilyn, I love the way my wife pronounces her words!” Aren’t they cute?! Marilyn told me about a fan fave on their premier duet album, “I Hope We Get to Love In Time” called “I Still Will Be With You.” “Billy and I had a goal on that one, that our voices should sound alike, virtually as one, and I think we achieved that.” Me too, and so many fans who tell me they wished that tune would have been a single, to boot! 

When I was hosting radio’s “Gospel Gold” in the ’80’s, Billy’s inspirational solo album featured a Marilyn & Billy duet, “Praise Ye the Lord.” My audience, including loyal fans of MarBill to this day, Alain & Mariette Baptiste, voted it to be the closing theme of my daily drive-time show.  We all revered Marilyn’s velvety, soulful passion juxtaposed with her hubby’s textured, pastoral musings, two of music’s most recognizable song stylists, essentially emoting a prayer of gratitude. I was so excited to produce “Praise” as a YouTube video a couple of Easter’s ago, when Billy’s project was reissued as “The Love of God.”  

Speaking of reissues, just in synch with MarBill’s anniversary, Real Gone Music releases (on 7/30) the duo’s second & third duet albums (expanded), “The Two of Us,” and “Marilyn & Billy.” Between the poignant single, “My Reason to Be is You” (on the second), to the addictive disco classic “Shine On Silver Moon” (on the third), there are so many hidden gems on these song sets to “re-behold!”  While long-time fan Susie Paige says, “It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to it’s ‘The Two of Us,'” the title tune itself, Brian Medoro declares “Wonderful,” another single from this album, as a personal all-time fave.  Then Renee Armstead joins the forum, shouting praises for “Nightsong” where MarBill reunited with their vocal arranger from The 5th Dimension’s “glory days,” Bob Alcivar; that familiar layered “5th wall of sound” echoes all throughout the tasty tune’s “movin’ and groovin’.”  FOREVER 5th DIMENSION just produced “I’m So Glad I Found You” as a YouTube video (see link below), it’s a bonus on “The Two of Us,” previously only appearing as the flip-side of the single, “I Hope We Get to Love In Time.”  The song is a Motown meets Jazzy romp that’s a tip of the hat to Marilyn’s roots with the Hi-Fi’s, Billy’s on the early eclectic club scene.

Faithful fans like Susan Aglio, Loretta Sorensen and Dale Kocik smoothly travel back, prompting a “group hug” for the MarBill duets on The 5th Dimension’s “Love’s Lines” and “Live” albums–  when Sue thoughtfully chooses “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” then Loretta says she’s joyfully reminded of “Every Night,” both from the former, while Dale is partial to the driving yet tender “Together, Let’s Find Love” on the latter.  Emiko “Emmy” Ikedo from Japan enthusiastically reminds us not to forget “Soul & Inspiration,” from the 5th album of the same title!   

The emotional “Keep the Lovelight Burning,” a  MarBill duet of faith from Marilyn’s solo inspirational CD, “The Me Nobody Knows” is tops on fan, John Estes’ list.  And didn’t we all get misty over “I Believe In You and Me,” in a class with The 4 Tops and Whitney Houston’s versions. This duet was featured on Marilyn’s “Solid Gold” album and was later re-recorded as a bonus to Marilyn & Billy’s moving memoir, “Up-Up & Away.”

Others, as evidenced by over 68 thousand “visits” of our YouTube production, are enthralled by the duo’s contemporary take on “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” from their recent “The Many Faces of Love” project.  And how thrilling when, from the same interactive CD, MarBill’s luscious testimony to long-term marriage, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” was featured on “Nancy for Frank,” Nancy Sinatra’s popular Sirius-XM show, that heralds the song stylings that embody her father’s.  Billy shared with me this revelation for FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, “Singing a song is like getting to act in a ‘mini movie.'” Marilyn added with grace, “And when it comes to that Alan and Marilyn Bergman song on the beauty of keeping a relationship fresh, ‘How Do You Keep the Music Playing’ is just like our own personal movie.”  “That’s right,” Billy winked as the two laughed in perfect pitch, perhaps the sweetest MarBill sound of all. 

God bless you Marilyn & Billy, your example of loving harmony in your music, in your life, is forever one of the brightest “stars in our show!” 

With Love,

Robert & the Fans 

Robert-Allan Arno– Biographer, The original 5th Dimension

(Copyright 2013, FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.) 

*Don’t forget Marilyn & Billy’s new double volume LIVE CD*! Order at:  http://www.McCooDavis.com

*See our special review of LIVE at:  https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/review-marilyn-mccoo-billy-davis-jr-live/

**Enjoy these Marilyn & Billy duets, produced for FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, on YouTube:

 –“I’m So Glad I Found You:”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q5iBOCsDg4

–“You Make Me Feel Brand New:”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5wCOLnn0F8

–“Praise Ye the Lord”:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTRtdfjm4ng

–“I Hope We Get to Love in Time” (Live):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cp2TTx4wo4

–“Land of Make Believe:”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZGT1X04uEk

–“This Moment in Time:”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzwczmBE3qU

–“Soul & Inspiration” (Un-vaulted Version):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-vRlvNUPzY

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5th History Meets Beatles’ 50th…

THE FIFTH DIMENSION“Some nicknamed The 5th Dimension ‘The Black Beatles’…like the Beatles, every fan, whether black or white, knew our individual first and last names,” proudly observes LaMonte McLemore in his upcoming for ’14 memoir, FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5th DIMENSION. Florence LaRue noted, too, “Our manager Marc Gordon had that ‘Beatles’ vision’ for us.”

TICKET TO RIDE (besides ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE in The 5th’s LIVE “Love Medley” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” from the rare EARTHBOUND album) is the most memorable 5th Beatles’ cover, as featured on the MAGIC GARDEN. As many know, the tune was recorded pre-GARDEN and was tacked onto “side one” of the album’s hypnotic song cycle. Nevertheless, TICKET remains a funky fan fave and a group member favorite romp, too—The original 5th performed it in their reunion tour of the 90’s and Marilyn McCoo has been known to do a solo version of it from time to time.

Enjoy TICKET as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ “arrival;” also Ms. LaRue mentioned in a recent interview, she’ll be celebrating her very own 50th with The 5th Dimension, next year.

Robert-Allan Arno
Biographer, The original 5th Dimension/LaMonte McLemore

LINK to TICKET TO RIDE by THE 5th DIMENSION: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDHNysc-Tkk

Also explore Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.’s jazzy take on “Gotta Get You Into My Life” from their new LIVE CD plus their spicy version of “We Can Work It Out” from their recent THE MANY FACES OF LOVE CD, available at their website:  http://www.McCooDavis.com

Note:  Press rare photo above to enlarge.  (Arno 5th Legacy Collection, all rights reserved)

Bonus!  Some relative remarks from our friends on Facebook:

  • Renee T Armstead Wow! I can’t wait for this book to come out!!
  • Traci Townson Me too!!
  • Antonio Pereira The 5th blew my mind with their version of Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love” as well.
  • Robert-Allan Arno …and honorable mention to “Every Night,” a post-Beatles, McCartney 5th cover…huge fan/personal fave from “Love’s Lines”…MarBill and the group close the album leaving us wanting more!
  • Renee T Armstead I also LOVE the version of the Stones’ “Moonlight Mile.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when I got that album.

Florence LaRue: Celebrating a Delightful Diva’s Birthday (2017)

NEWEST FLOR It’s a Florence LaRue Celebration as we honor the “Delightful Diva’s” birthday, Feb. 4 at Forever 5th Dimension. I know I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, Florence is a breathtaking force of nature–a whirlwind of all things energetic, compassionate, witty, downright sassy, sensitive & strong. Florence continues to mesmerize as today’s sole original member of The 5th Dimension, leading the current quintet with a busy & building touring schedule for ’17 through greatest hits & lots of tasty surprises. It’s hard to believe that the age-proof, eternal glamour girl has been part of The 5th for 50 years! She initially got into “the biz” with aspirations of a career in acting. It was at The Miss Bronze California pageant that Florence ran on stage with suitcase in hand emoting “April in Paris” aka “Avril en Paris” in perfect French. Upon seeing the poignant performance, judge Eartha Kitt purred, “We have our girl!” Florence, who won the Grand Talent Prize was photographed by none other than LaMonte McLemore, who also captured the year’s previous winner, Marilyn McCoo. And so history began, with Florence being invited by “Mac” to sing with “The Versatiles” along with himself, McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr. & Ron Townson. Their transition into The 5th Dimension started an uplifting ride that is heralded in uniting diverse audiences through their message of “harmony and understanding.” 6 Grammy awards plus countless Gold & Platinum records for classic songs like “Up-Up & Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” and “One Less Bell to Answer” are an indelible part of Florence and The 5th Dimension’s place in music history.

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Florence visits good friend, Vanessa Williams at “After Midnight”

A few seasons ago, backstage at the Broadway show “After Midnight” starring Vanessa Williams, I noticed many young entertainers in the Cotton Club-inspired review–singers & dancers–flocking to Florence to pay homage and extend their gratitude for the example she’s so masterfully set.  When I asked Florence about such an appreciative reaction that night as well as continuously from fans the world over, she gently smiled, “I’m always amazed, it’s humbling…The 5th Dimension and I were just the messengers.” A woman of God who appears in testimony to the power of grace on such shows as TBN’s PRAISE, Florence’s thoughtful response makes sense. Mega Producer Bones Howe muses, “Florence was always so…dancing, moving…full of life!” Founding member, McLemore who remained alongside LaRue for 41 years of 5th adventures reminds us in his popular memoir, FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5th DIMENSION, “Many might not know that Florence has an ingenious ear in knowing not only her part, but everyone’s,” an attribute that comes in handy in her keeping today’s sound of The 5th Dimension–along with members Patrice Morris, Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker and Floyd Smith–authentic as well as fresh.

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Florence recently told REWOUND RADIO she was never fully satisfied with her signature solo recordings that have become legacy songs. Jimmy Webb’s “This is Your Life ” and Laura Nyro’s “He’s a Runner” are just some “Florence tunes” she surprisingly thinks were quote, probably arranged in too high a key. FLORENCE BIRTHDAY“As an alto, I prefer my later recording of ‘I Knew You When’ that the producer encouraged me to sing full-out,” she informed.  Of course fans think each unique “Florence solo” is a hallmark of excellence including the Gospel-tinged “All Kinds of People,” the bittersweet “Salty Tears,” the effervescent “Magic in My Life,” the sensual “Love Hangover” (another personal LaRue fave), not to mention her sumptuous version of “Stormy Weather” in concert today during The 5th Dimension’s Rain Medley.

Whether touring with “The 5th,” in her solo autobiographical show, “Just as I Am,” giving inspiring speeches or volunteering for the homeless, our “Delightful Diva” (a moniker she gets a kick out of!) has no intention of slowing down, just re-invigorating herself by “stopping to smell the roses more” as she told her Facebook fans and friends.  Some literary projects are also on the horizon.  Thus, Florence LaRue continues to please her millions of fans with more magic, more picnics, more balloons, more sunshine. She beams onstage, “You’ve given The 5th Dimension Family so much love…and that’s why we give you back all the hits from our hearts to yours.”  Let’s send Florence more love and blessed wishes on the occasion of her birthday.  — Robert-Allan Arno

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Florence, center, with The 5th Dimension, today, l to r:  Willie, Patrice, Floyd & Leonard

 

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Florence LaRue with Robert-Allan Arno


 

florence-in-red-red-redThe Best of Florence—Her Iconic Solos, 2 by 2

(with “love notes” from the fans):

Florence’s iconic ballad “This Is Your Life” written by Jimmy Webb from PORTRAIT, and the poignant “He’s a Runner” written by Laura Nyro from the LOVE’S LINES album stylistically and thematically go hand-in-hand.

“This Is Your Life” from “Portrait”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGXhzYP9aR4

“He’s a Runner” from “Love’s Lines, Angles & Rhymes”—listen at: https://youtu.be/kb8XzRFBZ3M

The fans say about “This is Your Life” …

Brian Medoro Gorgeous song where Florence gets to show off her vocal power early on. We all know now how she can burn down the house.

Douglas C. Charles One of my favorites.

Blake Morant …great orchestration, a beautiful vocal arrangement and meaningful lyrics. Florence’s smoky version of “This Is Your Life” occupies a hallowed place on my playlists.

Dale Kocik Still a 5th and Florence favorite of mine. Her spot on vocal, the instrumentation and the back up vocals are perfect.

Renee T Armstead LOVE this. It brings back wonderful memories of watching her sing this in concert in the 70’s when “Portrait” came out!

Joe Peltonovich It seems like every song you post is one of my favorites! This is no exception. Florence does such a nice job on this one. She is just so cool!

Daniel Clark Awesome song. There should be an album of Florence singing these solos.

Mike Villeneuve To me there is no song that is not made better by Florence’s voice.

Estes John I Love this so much, Florence really shows off her chops on this. Perfect song and arrangement for the ever “Jazz-esque,” Florence!

The fans say about “He’s a Runner”…

Alain Baptiste My wife and I feel both “This Is Your Life” and “He’s A Runner” define grace and we think Ms.Florence LaRue is an architect of this state, she is a classic dancer with her notes and emotions. Mariette and Alain Baptiste

Blake Morant “He’s a Runner” has wonderful appeal, which I appreciated much later when I matured musically.

Susie Paige Birthday Blessings, Florence❣ My two favorites together are “This is Life” & “He’s a Runner”!

Michael John Kitner Love both “Life” and “Runner”–was thrilled to tell her
At the Miller outdoor theater in Houston Texas!

For a “magical hangover,” we couple the addictive “Magic in my Life” which no one ever seems to get enough of, from “Earthbound,” with the get-down groove of “Love Hangover.” For this, Florence recorded the lead in a dimly lit studio for “atmosphere”…but the rest of “the sweetest hangover story”—plug alert!—is told in LaMonte McLemore’s hit memoir “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” now in its 2nd edition, at Amazon.

“Magic In My Life” from “Earthbound”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41wGADIjMoE

“Love Hangover”—listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIGN0ZHgKro

The fans say about “Magic in My Life”…

Estes John Dear Florence, wishing You A Blessed Birthday filled with Happiness & all the Joy in the World! MAGIC IN MY LIFE is one of my all-time favorite songs. I listen to it all the time. You sing it so beautifully with such perfection. It’s total Pitch Perfect!

Mike Villeneuve “Magic in my Life” – BRILLIANT, I still play it at least once a week. I have a great Florence playlist…all of those tunes she led sound as timeless now as in the late 60s and 70s.

Robert Darnell Hollinsed I’m getting goose bumps thinking about these songs…”Magic in My Life”…I better pull out some albums, hahaha!!

The fans say about “Love Hangover”…

Brian Medoro I had the good fortune to see the group perform “Love Hangover” live twice in concert. First in Rochester in ’76 and then at Valley Forge in PA. That mysterious opening just grabs you…then they transition to layers of: “Over…Over….Oveeerrr!!” Then the band just hit it hard! It turned into the hardest beat dance song that would level any artist today attempting to cross over into that genre. The audience was yelling, whistling and cheering until the song’s end. It was very exciting to see and hear The 5th Dimension’s new flashy song. I have never forgotten it.

Tony Sbriglia Florence did a fantastic vocal on ” Love Hangover”!

Blake Morant Ah, I so appreciate you highlighting “Love Hangover” during this celebration of the indefatigable Florence LaRue!

“All Kinds of People” & “Salty Tears”: We sum up our featured tunes for our “Florence celebration” with 2 poignant songs of compassion…and passion. “All Kinds of People” written by Bacharach/David is not only Gospel-tinged but just as deeply relevant today. About this striking performance, Florence recently commented on the “Anything Goes” radio show and humbly so: “I forgot how beautiful the background singing was on this one!” Next is “Salty Tears”…and this is the un-vaulted alternative take & extended version that Bones Howe was so kind in providing (a few years ago) for this special FOREVER 5th video.

“All Kinds of People” from “Individually & Collectively”—listen at: https://youtu.be/uwCjsGo32fM

“Salty Tears” from “Soul & Inspiration,” an exclusive FOREVER 5th DIMENSION tribute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bEsmKHEhBM

The fans say about “All Kinds of People”…

Michael John Kitner I love this one !!!

Blake Morant Well, now we have a tune that displays Florence’s incredible range.  No doubt, the lyrics remain so salient today.  A Bacharach treasure.

flor-villageMore Fan Messages for Florence’s Special Day…

Paulette Morant Happy Birthday and many blessings in the year ahead, Ms. Florence LaRue! In this year of the Golden Anniversary of Up Up and Away, I thank you, as an artist and a fellow teacher, for putting magic in our lives.

Jim Handakas Happy Birthday, Florence! Thank you for the music. It has colored my life and continues to bring me joy. Your gift– my blessing.

Paul Corley Have a happy, happy birthday, Florence! You have given so much joy to the world through your talent and grace.

Elston Harry  (of The Friends of Distinction) Have a blessed birthday Florence.

Andy Gard Hope you have a wonderful birthday and a magnificent year ahead, Florence!

Deniserose Torres Warm wishes for a lovely Birthday Florence.

Douglas C. Charles Florence please advise: How does one grow lovelier every year? Wishing you the best birthday ever and many blessings in the year ahead. We Aquarians are the BEST! Love you!

David Pendleton Happy Birthday, Florence!

Martha E. Vink Happy Birthday, Florence! Thank you for blessing us with your rich and lovely voice for all these years. May God continue to bless you!

Loretta Sorensen Have a lovely day!

Carlene Schultz Owen Wishing you well on the anniversary of your birth.

Bob Radil Happy Birthday from your friends at REWOUND RADIO…I just played “Magic In My Life” on Friday’s show. It really is a good song. A gem.

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Visit Florence at http://www.florencelarue.com/

Visit The 5th Dimension feat. Florence LaRue at http://5thdimensionlive.com/

(copyright ’14-17, The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.)

Honoring Black History Month

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“The 5th Dimension’s essence of harmony brought people together in unity.”  It’s a phrase I’ve come up with over the years as biographer of The original 5th Dimension and of LaMonte McLemore.  Billy Davis, Jr. smiled when I told him this and added, “Marilyn and I always wanted to be approachable to our fans, our message too is that we are all really family.”  Florence LaRue reacted humbly, “We appreciate those sentiments, we were purely God’s messengers.”  Ron Townson in ’91 said with joy, “I am proud of our contributions, they go to other galaxies, too…’Earthbound’ was put in a time capsule that was placed on the moon!”  LaMonte in his upcoming for ’14 memoir FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5th DIMENSION (available in June!) talks at length about The 5th Dimension’s impact in the most heartfelt of ways.  From reaching out to the college crowd, to going behind “The Iron Curtain,” Mac didn’t take these performance opportunities for granted, “I never wanted to be a statistic…but to be an example to all…to make my mother and grandma proud.” 

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Here is The original 5th Dimension as produced, a few years back by FOREVER 5th  in honor of Black History Month.  Their interpretation of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” aligns their brilliant harmonies and contemporary  finesse with the history of a profound spiritual.  Marilyn McCoo said it best, “We did this for Burt Bacharach’s TV special in ’73, including showing rehearsals of the piece, as we wanted our fans to have a peak at the effort we put into our work…to inspire them.”

Robert-Allan Arno

Biographer, The original 5th Dimension/LaMonte McLemore

Link to “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen:”

(c. 2014, Forever 5th Dimension, The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.)