Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Special Message from “MarBill…”

Robert, thank you for the beautiful way you celebrated Billy’s birthday this year at Forever 5th Dimension. The tribute you wrote to him acknowledging his God-given gift, the many special comments from some of the top people in our business recognizing his matchless talent, then sharing the gentle, caring human being you know him to be–this is something that touched Billy so deeply and means so much to him. And to our special fans and friends who shared their own favorite Billy performances, he loved reading every word; they were so moving.

We thank you again, Robert, for your years of dedication to Forever 5th and MarBill. As we’ve told you many times before, you are a true blessing in our lives. Thank you for the photos, the stories and the memories, old and new.

God bless. We look forward to seeing everyone again, soon!

Love,

Marilyn & Billy

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.

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What Comes From Our Hearts: Celebrating Billy Davis Jr.’s Birthday

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In his memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension,” founder of The 5th Dimension and life-long friend, LaMonte McLemore earmarks Billy Davis, Jr.’s interpretation of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” as incomparable, bringing a tear to his eye. As biographer of both The original 5th and “Mac,” I was so proud to have it released (in medley with “People Gotta Be Free”) as a rarity selection on the current CD chart-topper, “Playlist: The Very Best of The 5th Dimension” on Sony-Legacy. Florence LaRue confided to a recent audience at her solo cabaret show, “My all-time favorite song by The 5th Dimension is ‘Misty Roses!’” That’s Billy’s “sweet-soul” side, way back-in-the-day from the very first “Up-Up and Away” album. Compare this to his “flip side,” as both the bluesy “When Something is Wrong with My Baby” and the gritty “Steppin’ In” stop the show “live in person,” and on the exemplary Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.’s latest double volume Live CD!

Dubbed one of our greatest Soul singers by the renown of Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Eddie Levert (The O’Jays) and Jimmy “Up-Up and Away” Webb, Billy noted recently to Michael Feinstein on his “Song Travels” radio show, “Nat King Cole was a major early inspiration.” In a mini “Master Class” Marilyn & Billy provided at our Blog, FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, Billy’s reminder to artists was to “tell the story…and let your notes highlight the feeling.” “’What comes from the heart, goes to the heart’ is my husband’s motto,” smiled Marilyn.  No wonder Ashford & Simpson picked up on this “heartfelt” quality in The 5th’s fan favorite version of their sizzling composition, “California Soul,” a group song, like “Ashes to Ashes” that is rather Billy-driven. Oh, and the socially-conscious “Ashes” is one of Billy’s personal faves, he shared on the radio a few years back!

REWOUND Radio’s Bob Radil in talking with me about the legacy of The 5th, cited Billy’s improv on “Let the Sunshine In” as a watershed moment in recording history. I responded, “Billy’s call to ‘Sing along with The 5th Dimension’ was irresistible…how could the nation not!” Marilyn continued in our “class,” noting her hubby’s directorial chops, too, “Billy guided my phrasing on ‘One Less Bell,’ in fact, he helped all the members with their solos.”

On Gospel tunes like “The Love of God,” from Billy’s project with Rev. James Cleveland and re-issued, “Billy has made women swoon at our church appearances,” observes Marilyn with a sympathetic giggle. “That’s not me, it’s God working through me,” Billy retorts humbly, and maybe most importantly of all. Famed 5th producer Bones Howe tells me, “On ‘The Magic Garden’ album alone, if you juxtapose ‘Requiem: 820 Latham’ (one of Marilyn’s personal faves) with ‘The Worst That Could Happen’ with ‘Summer’s Daughter’ (the latter, one of Bones’ sentimental likes), you’ll hear all the ‘dimensions’ of Billy.” Indeed, there are so many dimensions, so many more songs with that “Billy Davis, Jr. touch”–his stamp of artistic excellence.

It’s become a yearly tradition to tell us your favorite “Billy tune” while “speaking with your heart” to wish him a Happy Birthday. However, this year for 2015, we present a twist with the following question: 

If and when Marilyn & Billy record their next CD of duets with select solos, which all-time classic Soul, Blues, Gospel or American Pop Standard tune would you love Billy to record…or perhaps what previously recorded “Billy solo” would you like him to re-visit? 

We’ll send all your “trains of thought” and greetings over to “Sir Davis” and his proud wife of nearly 46 years, the lovely Ms. McCoo, on his special morning of June 26th…our cherished and respected “Gentleman of Soul.”  —Robert-Allan Arno

(copyright 2014, 15, The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.)

Here are our 2015  fan “results”–

    • Susan Aglio I would love for Billy to re-record my favorite, “The Singer!” Happy Birthday, Billy! I hope to see you and Marilyn very soon!
    • David Pendleton Without question the best Billy solo is “The Worst That Could Happen!”  I confess he’s inspired me to try and record it!  Happy birthday to a musical hero.
    • Elston Harry Give me a minute!!!
    • Alain Baptiste Robert-Allan, Mariette and I would want Mr. Davis to record his version of the Louis Armstrong perennial WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD, we think he’d give it a tender new, excuse the pun, dimension! Happy Birthday and God bless a great man.
    • Andy Gard How about Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”? That has a bluesy feel that Billy could knock out of the park (to borrow a baseball metaphor from Lamonte & you, Robert). BTW, happy birthday, Mr. D!
    • Robert-Allan Arno “That’s Life”…that’s ingenious! Thanks Andy!!
    • Deniserose Torres To re-visit, already my favorite…”Let it Be Me”… Happy birthday Billy..wishing you a wonderful day..
    • Loretta Sorensen That was a difficult task but I would enjoy Billy performing “Fields of Gold” by Sting. It’s so pure and pretty, sort of like Billy’s “Misty Roses,” one of my favorites. Happy Birthday Billy and many more to come!
    • Robert-Allan Arno Thanks Deniserose, Loretta and everyone…this thread is becoming fascinating…perfect for Billy’s day!
    • Susie Paige I would love to hear Billy sing “His Eye is On the Sparrow”. Birthday cake
    • William Q. Singleton (aka Bill Quinn/METROMEDIA RADIO) Robert, I’d really love to hear them sing “Waters of March!” It’s such a sublime song and one of Jobim’s best. It’s probably a long shot, but a complete project of American Pop Standards would really be a treat and give fans an opportunity to see their amazing range and talents as singers.
    • Antonio Pereira Happy Birthday Billy! How’s about you and Marilyn recording your own version of ‘Where Is The Love’?
    • Renee T Armstead Happy Birthday Billy!! It was SO great to see you and Marilyn this past Saturday. The show was the best and Barbara and I were thrilled to be blessed with a front row seat!! As you may remember, my favorite “Billy” tune is “A Change is Gonna Come.”  If and when you and Marilyn record a new CD of duets with select solos, I think you would do a superb job of “Hold On, I’m Coming”, the oldie by Sam and Dave. Meanwhile, God bless you both. Enjoy your birthday Soul Man!

      Renee T Armstead's photo.
    • Douglas C. Charles Billy – Happy Birthday to one awesome singer!! You are so loved and admired. I cherish my recordings of you and the group as well as the wonderful memories of seeing you/meeting you in person. I hope this birthday is your best ever. I wish you love, joy and many happy returns.
    • Estes John Happy Birthday Billy. An updated version of THE SINGER would be great to hear.
    • Paul Corley It would be great to hear a remake of “Feelin’ Alright” or “Half Moon.” Have a Happy Birthday, Billy, and thank you for sharing your gift with the world.
    • Bob Radil Antonio mentioned “Where Is The Love.”  A duet I was thinking of is “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” but oops, they’re both negative and duets! Robert-Allan mentioned a Billy *solo.* First song to come to mind, “When A Man Loves A Woman.” Could that work? This may be a bit corny but it could be preceded by Marilyn doing “Which Way You Going Billy.”
    • Robert-Allan Arno Bob, you are onto something “psychic,” lol…MarBill performed “Where is the Love” on TV back in the day (“The Sonny and Cher Show”) and made it sound quite positive, lol…and Billy did record “When a Man…” on the MarBill CD done for their 40th anniversary, “The Many Faces of Love.”
    • Robert-Allan Arno I will add my, hopefully more than 2 cents, lol. “A Change is Gonna Come, ” and “Leave a Little Room” are my two fave Billy recorded solos, I’m wondering if he could work them into a new medley. More concretely, he has mentioned Nat King Cole as an early influence. I’d like to hear Billy record “Nature Boy,” but not as a ballad or even with a Jazz vibe, but against a Blues arrangement…Billy’s sense of pathos as well as musicality while talking about “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” would be incomparable.
    • Martha E. Vink Happy Birthday to Billy! I’d love to hear him do some old Gospel tunes. A whole album full!
    • Brian Medoro I want to hear a whole album of Rock n Roll, Soul, Blues from Billy. Whatever he likes, it would be great.  Some of my older favorites are I’ve Got A Feeling, Don’t Stop For Nothin’, Requiem 820, I Just Want To Be Your Friend…Amazing! There’s no one like you. Have a fantastic day.!
    • Jeffrey Graham Happy Birthday blessings to one of our greatest musical treasures! I would love to hear Billy’s take on the Bill Withers/Grover Washington classic, “Just The Two Of Us!”
    • Kenneth Green Happy Birthday, Mr. Davis! Summer’s Daughter is my favorite. I’d like to see you tackle that again.
      Blake Morant Sorry I’ve been out of the loop a bit, Robert-Allan Arno. Business travel wreaks havoc. I must, however, add my personal, albeit belated, tribute to the great Billy Davis, Jr. His impassioned, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” remains a classic and very relevant today. If I were privileged enough to make a request, I would ask him to record Michael Bolton’s hit, “That’s What Love Is All About.” Billy’s soulful renderings would give this song all new poignancy. It also captures the essence of his inspirational relationship with the equally great, Marilyn McCoo.
      And from LaMonte McLemore’s Facebook Page:
      Tomorrow, June 26 is the birthday of one of our greatest Soul singers, my musical colleague, and a forever friend, Mr. Billy Davis, Jr. Enjoy this salute at the FOREVER 5th DIMENSION blog, by Robert-Allan Arno. And all greetings you post here for Billy will be sent on over to him! A birthday “right on,” my brother, and God bless you always! –LaMonte
    • Gary Mallitz Judi and I wish you a wonderful birthday.
    • Little Anthony Gourdine Happy Birthday Billy!!
      Unlike · Reply · 2 · 9 hrs
    • Joan Truelove Happy Birthday Billy. Enjoy your Day.
    • Mable Buckner Billy, Happy Birthday!! Jimmy “Fashion Plate” Payton and I hope you have a fantastic birthday! We hope to see you and Marilyn soon!
    • Judy Millet Have a beautiful birthday Billy!Birthday cake
Nancie Roman Happy Birthday Billy. Wishing you many, many more. I hope you enjoy your special day! Birthday cake

Manuel Esparza Happy Birthday Billy from all of us at:
Chicano-magazine.com
Here are greetings from special fans & friends, 2014: 

Renee T Armstead: I can’t believe LaMonte feels the same as I do about “A Change is Gonna Come.” It brings tears to my eyes too! That is my favorite Billy song! Also, I’ve always loved the fact that Billy was named the Sunny Dimension when the group was together.  I have truly loved getting to know him and Marilyn all through these years. Happy Birthday!

Susie Paige: Have a happy birthday, Billy! “Somebody Warm Like Me” is one of my personal favorites. Thanks for all the great music!…Gabriel Pellegrino:  Billy is the Man! May God bless you with many more years!… Elston Harry: Billy, Happy Birthday, I will celebrate you!…Douglas C. Charles: Billy, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you a few times over the years & you have always been so gracious.  “Steppin In” has become a new favorite of mine. I hope before I die to hear you sing “Leave A Little Room.” Been enjoying your solos since the first album (“Which Way to Nowhere”).  God Bless & “Be Good” as your autographs used to say…Dale Kocik: So many favorites–“Feelin Alright, Every Night, Those Were The Days, Guess Who.” Thanks so much for all of the great music, Happy Birthday Bily!…Estes John: Happy Birthday Billy. My all-time personal fave Billy-lead/solo song has always been BROKEN WING BIRD followed by IT’LL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN…Loretta Sorensen: Trying to choose just one favorite Billy Davis Jr. song is like trying to eat just one potato chip! Since I don’t stop at one chip, my favorites are Let It Be Me, Misty Roses, A Change Is Gonna Come, Requiem: 820 Latham. Happiest of Birthday’s dear Billy and thank you for always being so kind to me…Isis LaShawn Hardy:I enjoyed reading the Forever 5Th article. My top 5 favorite Billy led songs are– My Song, Too Poor to Die, It’ll Never be the Same Again, Ashes to Ashes, and Requiem: 820 Latham. But I must give props to Billy’s lead on Feelin’ Alright. It is my FAVORITE version of the song. It grooves!

Alain Baptiste: We thought about this, Robert-Allan. Billy has been a light in our lives for many years now. His in a split second recognizable sound, the dedication to everything he does, is something we have come to expect but never take for granted. With pride, we love him and Marilyn more than we can say. Adding, “Let It Be Me” is the bomb! Mariette and Alain Baptiste…

A. Scott Galloway: Happy Birthday Billy! To this day I cherish a conversation I had with Marilyn at Warner Bros. for her “The Me Nobody Knows” CD where she told me her favorite performance of yous was “Requiem: 820 Latham,” reciting some of Jimmy Webb’s vivid lyrics to me like poetry. I went home, pulled my “The Magic Garden” album out and it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve loved you and “The 5th” – my 1st favorite group – since I was 4 and my family drove from Ann Arbor to Rialto with the “Up-Up And Away” LP as our road soundtrack. Wishing you many happy returns and Much Love Always.
 


We Remember Casey Kasem…

The 5th Dimension Family is saddened by the passing of legendary “American Top 40” host, Casey Kasem.  Reflecting back, wasn’t it thrilling for we who got to listen first-hand each Sunday to Casey’s account, week-by-week of how “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” was ascending the chart…just to hear him say “Marilyn McCoo,” was a bonus!  And later, he gave us the scoop on “You Don’t Have to be a Star (To be in My Show),” Marilyn & Billy’s Disco era, sweet-Soul mega-hit.  (Note:  We also recently lost Don Davis, the renown producer of “Star.”)

LaMonte McLemore reminds, “Casey, just like Dick Clark and Don Cornelius, was a very good friend to The 5th Dimension, in fact, he attended our induction ceremony, when we received our star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

As well, Casey–a quintessential gentleman with a  witty sense of humor– gave me a gloriously heartfelt quote about the group for my ULTIMATE 5th DIMENSION liner notes, one I use to this day as biographer:

“The 5th Dimension stood in a class by themselves.”  –Casey Kasem

God bless his legacy.  —Robert-Allan Arno

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Special Thanks to Bob Radil of Rewound Radio…

It was an honor and pleasure to appear tonite (who says Fri. the 13th AND a full moon is NOT cool?!) with gentleman of radio hosts, Bob Radil of Rewound Radio.  His Friday night “60’s/70’s Show” is a soothing yet exhilarating fave even when I’m not on the show!  It was glorious fun to talk all things “The 5th Dimension” including the group’s latest, exciting compilation for Sony, “Playlist: The Very Best of The 5th Dimension,” for which I co-compiled tunes and wrote liners.  It’s already a huge seller…wow!

To those Rewound listeners who may be stopping by to the Blog, post-show…please scroll down for links as to where you can easily purchase the CD at WalMart, CD Universe or Amazon. And for more information on the stars, please visit their websites:

For Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jrhttp://www.mccoodavis.com

(or go to their Official Facebook page)

For The 5th Dimension, today, featuring Florence LaRuehttp://www.thefifthdimension.org

For Florence LaRue, her solo endeavors:  http://www.florencelarue.com

For LaMonte McLemorehttp://www.lamontephotography.com

My best to all and an “Up-Up and Away!”  Stay tuned to FOREVER 5th DIMENSION!

Robert-Allan Arno

Biographer, The original 5th Dimension & LaMonte McLemoreImage

“Playlist: The Very Best of The 5th Dimension” is available at:

WalMart, CD Universe and Amazon, respectively–

http://www.walmart.com/ip/36723477

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=9204084

http://www.amazon.com/Playlist-Very-Best-Fifth-Dimension/dp/B00JM5C9CQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1402598453&sr=1-1&keywords=playlist+5th+dimension

Don’t forget to check out Rewound Radio at:  http://www.rewoundradio.com

Visit Robert-Allan Arno at:  http://robertallanarno.flavors.me/

 

Arno Takes The 5th, This Friday on Rewound Radio!

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REWOUND, baby! Friends, I’ll be on my pal Bob Radil‘s Friday night radio show on the retro yet ever-fresh Rewound Radio, this Friday night June 13th…talkin’ ’bout the new “Playlist: The Very Best of The 5th Dimension” compilation and other goodies, I didn’t say oldies!  Featuring a special story from LaMonte and secrets from Bones! Approx 7 PM, EST, tune in and join us on the net at: www.rewoundradio.com

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

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Something for Everyone– A Picnic of “Champagne Soul” Delights!

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Something for everyone!  It’s an early summer picnic of “Champagne Soul” delights with a wealth of new & recent releases for fans (from steadfast to our young YouTube crowd!) of The 5th Dimension and Marilyn & Billy.  Here are links for easy ordering at low prices!

–New!  “Playlist: The Very Best of The 5th Dimension” on Sony Legacy.  Fresh liners by Robert-Allan Arno go song-by-song as hits & select rarities unfold. 14 gems chosen by Marilyn & Billy, Florence and LaMonte and sequenced by Arno, gorgeously re-mastered for ‘14!

Includes: “California Soul,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Blown’ Away,” “Never My Love” (Mono single), “A Change is Gonna Come/People Gotta Be Free” (Mono single), “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (Stereo radio mix).

Available at Amazon, CD Universe and WalMart–Links:  http://www.walmart.com/ip/36723477

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=9204084

http://www.amazon.com/Playlist-Very-Best-Fifth-Dimension/dp/B00JM5C9CQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1402598453&sr=1-1&keywords=playlist+5th+dimension

Also, see our special “Behind the Scenes Scoop” on Playlist at “Recent Entries”

–Finally!  EARTHBOUND (re-mastered) on Real Gone Music CD’s.  The “swan song” album by the original quintet, Jimmy Webb produces The 5th Dimension, once again. Marilyn & Billy weigh in via liners with their thoughts today on this emotional and harmoniously hip project of ‘75.

Includes “Magic In My Life,” “Walk Your Feet in the Sunshine,” “When Did I Lose Your Love,” “Speaking with My Heart,” “Moonlight Mile.”

Link:  http://realgonemusic.enstore.com/item/the-5th-dimension-cd

SOLID GOLD by Marilyn McCoo is an ‘80’s reissue on Real Gone.  It features fan faves “Heart Stop Beating In Time,” “One on One,” ‘Always on My Mind,” an unreleased tune gets un-vaulted and MarBill’s “I Believe in You and Me” is still so breathtaking.

Link:  http://realgonemusic.enstore.com/item/marilyn-mccoo-solid-gold-cd

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. LIVE is a self-produced 2 volume set that astoundingly reps exactly what it’s like to attend a current, jam-packed musical show of the Grammy-winning dynamic duo.  5 Stars n’ Sizzling!

Includes:  “You Don’t Have to be a Star,” “Easy Way Out/Need You Now,” “Gotta Get You Into My Life,” “Up-Up and Away,” “One Less Bell,” “When Something is Wrong with my Baby,” “You Are So Beautiful.”

See the special review by Arno on CD Baby:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/marilynmccoobillydavisjr

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