by Robert-Allan Arno
Dateline Feb 14: “After all, The 5th Dimension stood for love,” is part of what I said in introducing the visionary LaMonte McLemore at The Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas at the book signing event for his long-awaited memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music.” Receiving cheers from a couple hundred 5th fans, friends and family, a misty-eyed LaMonte concurred as we began the “live talk show” segment of our presentation: “There sure is a whole lotta love in the room!” Mac and I chatted about everything from the perfect timing of the book’s release–the soon to be 50th anniversary of The 5th Dimension, his mother’s centennial birthday celebration–to the mouthwatering secret behind the book’s “Stoned Soul Gumbo” recipe! “I don’t know of many memoirs that have a centerfold,” Mac winked adding “and ours has fifty very rare photos from my collection.” As LaMonte’s as-told-to author, I told the crowd of friendly and familiar faces, “This humble man said he and The 5th won 14 gold and 3 platinum records, and 6 Grammys and he wanted to give them all back to you in the book.” Indeed, “the singer tells his story” as the group’s founder and mellow bass about so many tunes and albums including the gem “Magic Garden,” the seminal “Portrait,” and the mysterious “Earthbound,” that you’ll just have to dig into the memoir, already receiving rave reviews. “I always wanted The 5th to go in a more danceable direction, you’ll see why in the ‘Aquarius–The Music Dancing in My Mind’ chapter,” Mac stated. Also, woven throughout the book is his cherished Grandma’s golden and feisty wisdom. About Grandma Gertrude, a Cherokee Indian, LaMonte shared to laughs, “She’d say the sun rises and sets for everyone, we’re the only ones who screw it up in between…and I censored one of the words!” Florence LaRue, who was appearing in Florida with The current 5th Dimension, sent a lovely congratulatory note which I had the honor of reading to LaMonte, while in attendance at the heartwarming event were Bobette and Kyle Townson, the wife and son of the beloved Ron “Sweets” Townson, plus Harry Elston of The Friends of Distinction and Lawrence Summers of the precursor group to The 5th Dimension, The Hi-Fi’s. The eternal question, “How did The 5th Dimension get started?” was turned into time for LaMonte to step up to the podium to emote from the book…the “tall tale” skit version of the quintet’s formation with my cuing Mr. Mac to take Sweets’, Florence’s, Marilyn’s and Billy’s parts as well as his own. After the giggles and applause, questions were fielded from the audience which included special fans and friends like Renee Armstead, Martha Vink, Deniserose Torres, Kim Savage, Loretta Sorensen, Ed Teasdale, John Estes, KCEP radio’s vivacious “Carlaya,” and the clever Andy Gard who had a nifty one about Mac’s “Fred Sanford” connection. You’ll have to read the book for that Redd Foxx anecdote!
With assistance from LaMonte’s lovely wife, Mieko, while lots and lots of books were signed and photo ops occurred, we waited for the “guest starring” arrival of Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., who joined us after their sound-check at the hotel’s theater, taking to our afternoon stage to a thunderous ovation. Marilyn smiled brightly, “We see so many awesome people here, we are overwhelmed, and so happy to support LaMonte’s memoir.” Mac presented MarBill with a framed enlargement of a photo he took of the twosome as Billy observed buoyantly, “This is a favorite, from the back of our ‘Many Faces of Love’ project.” As I said while intro-ing the 45 years married, eternally youthful duo, “one of the most beautiful women in entertainment, and a true gentleman of Soul” were anticipating their sold-out concert, later that evening at the Orleans showroom. And thus, a few hours later, we got to behold a Pop-Soul, Blues & Torch array of delectable McCoo & Davis goodies just for Valentine’s Day like a medley of “My Funny Valentine” with “Your Precious Love,” as even “Wedding Bell Blues” took on new meaning. Tons of greatest hits amid Billy’s St. Louis Blues and Marilyn’s “Showboat” Broadway recreation were just what cupid ordered as “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” kept the crowd enthralled to the end. During the “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” near finale, when MarBill welcomed, “Mac, come on up here!” the crowd went wild as the three reunited like they had never been away from one other, “under the twilight canopy.”
Currently Marilyn and Billy are singing and sailing on the Soul Train cruise, while LaMonte and I are embarking on his media and book-signing tour with destinations to be announced. And with reviews like “Delightful,” “captures LaMonte’s true voice…and heart,” and “I couldn’t put it down,” the memoir “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” is off to a vibrant start. And what could we already add in an addendum to the book? That Valentine’s Day 2015 was a milestone to remember–just as The 5th Dimension always brought diverse people together, the love was waiting there, in Vegas, in salute of icons who truly made the world a nicer place, and still do.
Purchase “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” now at:
–or take a peek n’ purchase at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692307362
–or in the UK at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0692307362
Join LaMonte McLemore on Linked-In, or friend him on Facebook; his new website upcoming!
Marilyn & Billy, LaMonte, and Robert-Allan Arno are on Twitter!
Visit Florence LaRue and The 5th Dimension at: http://www.thefifthdimension.org or http://www.florencelarue.comSelect Reviews of “From Hobo Flats To The 5th Dimension”:
I learned some things about LaMonte that I didn’t know, yet being a resident of “Hobo Flats” for many years, I can remember a lot of these adventures. I started reading the book after returning from Vegas. I couldn’t put it down. I was astonished by the credits and contributions. I was also on the floor laughing my a** off. The book is so well written by Robert-Allan Arno and LaMonte. It’s an easy read, and LaMonte pulled no punches in his description of people and places. I ain’t just saying this cause he’s my boy, but the book is brilliant. So ya’ll hit Amazon and get yo copy that you will truly enjoy. —Harry Elston of The Friends Of Distinction
LaMonte and I wish to extend special thanks to Steve Rosenblum at Sterling-Winters; you’re the best, Steve! –Mac and Robert
(Photos, All Rights Reserved from the collections of: Ray Glover, Deniserose Torres, Andy Gard, Robert-Allan Arno and LaMonte McLemore)